Last month Essilor Vision Foundation, the National Eye Centre and People’s Association organized SPECtacular Experience @ Tampines: an eyecare event for more than 140 disadvantaged local residents.
June 18th was a special day at Tampines West Community Club: People’s Association (PA) – a Singaporean government organization, the Singaporean National Eye Centre and Essilor Vision Foundation came together to screen more than 140 financially disadvantaged elderly residents of Tampines, in the East region of Singapore. Almost 100% of people tested needed reading glasses that were provided free by EVF. Additionally the National Eye Centre organized free cataract eye screenings. We spoke to People’s Association to learn more about this initiative.
When was the idea of the SPECtacular Experience born ? There will always be gaps or areas of need in the community that require additional support. The SPECtacular Experience initiative came out of the Project We Care Networking Luncheon in July 2014 when PA and Nanyang Optical began to explore possible eye care programs to reach out to vulnerable residents. After months of planning, the SPECtacular Experience initiative was created to focus on holistic eye care, including the provision of pro-bono cataract surgeries to qualifying residents. Nanyang Optical invited other partners to join which is how Essilor came on board.
What did the SPECtacular Experience hope to achieve? The SPECtacular Experience initiative aims to provide end-to-end eye care solutions to vulnerable residents in the community through complimentary eye screening, eye health education, eyewear and referrals for eye treatments such as cataract surgery.
What is the People’s Association’s involvement in the SPECtacular Experience? PA’s role is to identify suitable beneficiaries for this philanthropic initiative through its extensive grassroots network, but also to facilitate action, for example through finding strategic partners from the optometry industry to support sponsorship of eye wear, volunteer people’s time and expertise as well as help towards cataract surgeries.
How do you think that the new glasses and healthy vision will benefit the residents? The glasses will definitely enhance the quality of life of these residents. Many of the elderly people would not have been able to afford eye tests and spectacles by themselves, so initiatives like this have a real positive impact on their everyday lives.
More than just facilitating daily life, good vision can contribute to the independence and autonomy of elderly people. Beyond the testimonials that we regularly receive from our beneficiaries, many recent studies also show that visual impairment can severely limit activities. Vision problems increase the risk of falling with the result that broken bones are seven times more likely in elderly people. Indeed some activities become so challenging that many elderly people, afraid of getting injured, avoid doing them at all. Research has also explored this vicious circle that ultimately can impact psychological and emotional health. Sometimes very simple solutions, like a pair of reading glasses, can considerably change people’s lives for the better.