A new vision health program was launched in Spain this month targeting individuals at risk of social exclusion. Called ‘See to Grow’ (Ver para Crecer), the program draws on the expertise of two key partners – the Cione Ruta de la Luz Foundation, which has 14 years’ experience in bringing vision care to disadvantaged people and Essilor, under the banner of its Vision For Life initiative.

See to Grow aims to ensure equal access to vision care for people who lack the means to get their eyes tested and have difficulties in affording eyeglasses. Its first project on May 7 was in Madrid at the headquarters of a local NGO – Messengers of Peace – which provides much-needed food and other support to local families. Three volunteer optometrists worked into the evening after school to provide eye testing for some thirty children, a quarter of whom will receive corrective glasses.

“This kind of initiative is a step forward in ensuring equal opportunities and vision health for school-age children.”

“In many cases, poor vision is the main cause of failure at school,” explained Marisa Galdón, one of the See to Grow volunteers, about the importance that vision correction can have on children at risk of social exclusion. “This kind of initiative is a step forward in ensuring equal opportunities and vision health for school-age children.”

Father Angel Garcia Sanchez, founder of Messengers of Peace: “See to Grow goes beyond providing for basic needs, and helps prevent vision problems. It’s something that we want to extend to older people in the future.”

See to Grow will organize four more vision health campaigns with local NGOs working with disadvantaged children and adults during May and June. In addition, the program will fund eye testing and corrective glasses for people identified by social aid associations at 350 opticians in cities across Spain, with further actions planned for the second half of the year.

See to Grow is one of the first national programs to receive endorsement from the Vision For Life program. Essilor teams in Spain are providing their expertise and volunteer support for eye testing and the logistics of lenses and frames to bring vision correction to those in need. Pilar Cornejo, an Essilor volunteer summed up the experience, “It was a humbling experience to see how we can impact the lives of these children.”