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Sight is a Right

Updated: Jan 25

Welcome back friends! I hope your Thanksgivings were delicious and exciting.

We're switching up our Indy Spotlight for this week a little bit. To honor the Thanksgiving spirit we wanted to give stronger focus to an actual charity this week rather than charitable designers and brands *We still love you guys though!* That being said though, this week we're shining the light on Sight is a Right , a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that got it's official start in 2017.

Founder, Steven Stern, began volunteering in 2005 with Great Shape! Inc. as part of their dental team and was often asked by patients about vision care help in addition to the dental services Great Shape provided. In 2008 he experienced something that not only myself, but many other opticians and ECPs are all too familiar with. He gifted a Jamaican woman a simple pair of readers that allowed her to be able to read her bible for the first time in almost 10 years and she burst into tears on being able to read again.

I can attest to how moving this response can be for. In my early days of optometry, I remember giving a 60 year old patient his first pair of prescription glasses and vividly recall the moment he looked out the window began sobbing. He told me it was the first time he'd been able to see the detail of the leaves on the trees in as long as he could remember. That rather than appearing as big green puffs of color it appeared as individual leaves and could actually discern the bark on the trunk. That was the first job I'd had in my life that gave me a true sense of purpose in my job. It was more than just running a register or hustling merchandise with no legitimate purpose. I gave someone the gift of vision again after decades of not seeing those miniscule details that many of us take for granted on a daily basis. The sense of purpose and reward you get in that moment affects us all differently but very few of us ever forget that moment.

Steven went on to start the iCare program in 2009, another project under the Great Shape! Inc umbrella. iCare's focus is on the children and families of Jamaica and the Caribbean by providing access to health care and education to those in need. In the areas they work there are only 2 public health care providers for every 500,000 Jamaicans and over 43% of those have never had any type of eye health monitoring or treatments in their lifetimes. For me, that's crazy to think about considering how mainstream optometry has become in the U.S. but this is a harsh reality for many countries, which makes these missions a precious resource for those in need.

By 2017, Steven was ready to take things to the next level and founded Sight is a Right to be able to expand his outreach more often and bring help to more countries in need. Through this foundation Steven has had over 1200 volunteers join him not just in Jamaica but also in Peru, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados and the Bahamas. Their visits include not only exams and medications but also much needed surgeries and procedures for cataracts, microinvasive glaucoma and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In 2023 alone, Sight is a Right partnered with iCare to provide four missions to three countries and treated 7,800 patients with the help of 143 volunteers. There was a whopping $2.53 million worth of goods and services that were provided this year and another mission planned for May of 2024.

Whether you've volunteered for mission work before or not, this is definitely a project worth giving your time to. Sight is a Right is currently accepting applications until their next mission slots are full for their May 18 - May 26, 2024 mission. They will be heading to Todos Santos in Baja, California and will be focusing on helping the children of the area. The volunteer fee is $900+ airfare which includes lodging at the Los Colibris Casistas resorts and all meals and transportation will be included in addition to your clinic materials. If you'd like to apply for their Todos Santos mission you can apply here. Remember your project donation and airfare ARE tax deductible as well!

If volunteering is not your thing or you can't make it, you can also donate to both Sight is a Right and iCare by visiting either or and know your donations are going to some great causes! If you know of any other charities or charitable eyewear brands you think I should feature I'd love to hear them! Send me an email at and tell me what it is you love about them. Lucia and I might feature them on an upcoming episode and include them in the Spotlight blog!

As always, thanks for reading and don't forget to check out today's episode of Opticians:Unhinged! I hope all your Thanksgivings were amazing. Til next time!


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