Cool Shades, Kind Hearts 4

Fairway Eye Center’s Gift of Sight Program Takes Glasses to the Underprivileged

Fairway Eye Center has four Kansas City locations: Fairway, Leawood, Liberty and Raytown. At each location the doctors and staff provide comprehensive vision care and offer eyewear, contact lenses, and laboratory services with a focus on eye health, disease management, and family optometric care.

But the doctors and staff have their sights set on making a difference globally as well as locally. They understand that people in many countries do not have access to eye care or the funds necessary to purchase glasses, and they’re working to change that through the Gift of Sight program.

Here’s how it works: for each pair of glasses purchased at Fairway Eye Center, a pair of eyeglasses is donated and used in an ongoing mission to extend the gift of sight to people in need.

Gift of Sight’s first mission trip was to Juarez, Mexico, in 2006. Since then, mission trips have helped people in Enseñada, Tampico and Poza Rica, Belmopan and Belize City, Guatemala City, and most recently Jamaica in 2015.

Because these are locations in which residents spend much of their time outdoors and are subject to damaging UV rays and sun damage that can result in early cataracts, pterygiums, and retinal degeneration, the doctors and staff at Fairway Eye Center recognized another need: UV-blocking sun wear. Enter Share the Shade, which is part of the Gift of Sight program, which leverages the purchase of sunglasses at Fairway Eye Center to provide protective gear to those in need.

Burt Schreiber, O.D., is an Overland Park native and graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Rockhurst University. He started volunteering during optometry school as part of the Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity (SVOSH) program, where he sorted through boxes of donated glasses, cleaned them, then took them on mission trips to give to people without access to eye care and has traveled to Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala with Gift of Sight to provide missionary eye care.

“My experiences as a student made it exciting to continue the rewarding pursuit of providing for those in need as part of the Gift of Sight Program,” says Schreiber. “I’ve been on five mission trips. The best part of what we do is seeing someone looking out on the world—they’re seeing things clearly for the first time, and their smile when they finally see the person they are with or can see their surroundings with new eyes is what makes it exciting to travel to places where there is a lack of access to this kind of care.”

Schreiber says he’s reminded each time he returns to his home in Leawood how blessed and fortunate we are in the US; but he—and his colleagues at Fairway Eye Center—are also keenly aware that there are countless people here at home who need help as well.

“Because of this, we support the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI), provide eye care and vision services for local schools, donate time in the local community in conjunction with our local Lion’s Club, and continue to provide both eyewear and sun wear to those who need it most,” he says.

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