Pre-optometry student club collects glasses

Optometry Donations
On the MSC Bridge, eye glasses can be dropped off in the donation box to help Haiti and other third world countries. (Photo: Jennifer Meahan for The Current)

Located in the lobby of the Optometry College or on a table on the MSC Bridge of the University of Missouri-St. Louis for the past two weeks are drop boxes set up by the Pre-Optometry Club.

With the help of organizations such as Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Help Humanity and National Optometric Student Association, the club has set up a drive to collect glasses for Haiti and other third world countries.

The president of the Pre-Optometry Club, Cortney Luehrmann, sophomore, pre-optometry, said that this was the first year the club had done their fundraiser on the main campus as well as South Campus.

“As a club, we want to make the university aware of the need for donated glasses for developing countries,” Luehrmann said.

In the past, the fundraiser was held by various optometry students who volunteered with SVOSH, the student side of VOSH.

Although the drop boxes asked for eyeglasses for Haiti, some students were confused by them.

“I saw and read the box and knew that they were collecting glasses, I just did not know where it was going,” Zach Martin, junior, liberal studies, said.

“I was a little confused about the drive because when I think of donations, I do not think of eyeglasses.”

According to Luehrmann, Haiti has had a lack of optometric care before and after the earthquake. VOSH would like to improve that by providing Haitians with corrective vision.

“Right now, the VOSH organization is working in Haiti to make sure they have optometric care, but they will also go to other developing nations where they need optometric care,” Luehrmann said. Luehrmann also mentioned how some fourth year optometric students have recently traveled with the group to Haiti because VOSH was one of its first responders after the devastating earthquake.

Luehrmann stressed the importance of delivering glasses to the disaster torn country, and mentioned what the group will be looking for when collecting the eyewear.

“We are collecting the frames and the lenses, the lenses are the most important of the donated glasses because they have the prescription,” Luehrmann said. “I just want to do my part in helping people get what they need to see.”

This drive is not just confined to the UM-St. Louis campus. Pre-optometry student clubs from universities such as Saint Louis University, Maryville, Missouri Baptist and others have collection boxes for the same cause.

Yet at the end of the fundraiser all of the collected glasses come to the same place—UM-St. Louis, where SVOSH identifies the prescription, tags the glasses and then ships them off to developing countries.

Although the drive has now come to a close, there is still opportunity to contribute, according to optometrist Barbara Brown, manager of student and special services in the college of optometry.

“We never turn down glasses for third world countries,” Brown said.