In focus

Bringing eye care to disadvantaged communities in Nicaragua

GrandVision’s Swedish brand, Synoptik, has a long track-record of helping to improve quality of life in impoverished regions. Since 2011, it has fitted prescription glasses free of charge for almost 18,000 people in disadvantaged communities around the world.

Synoptik conducts these activities through its charitable foundation, Opticians Without Borders, and in collaboration with Swedish aid organization Vision For All. The used, but fully functioning glasses, are donated by Synoptik customers and by the general public as part of a nation-wide collection campaign that takes place in Sweden each year. In 2016, a record 71,000 pairs of glasses were donated.

In 2016, during a charitable trip to Nicaragua, a group of Synoptik opticians and eye care assistants performed eye exams and provided more than 4,000 pairs of free eye glasses to children and adults with limited access to eye healthcare.

“Our optometrists use very simple methods, but our work really does change people's lives,” says Synoptik Marketing Director Lottie Funck Ekelund. “The availability of optometrists and financial resources is very limited in rural areas, and that is where we can make the biggest difference.”

The World Health Organization estimates that 90% of those with eyesight problems worldwide live in developing countries and are often unable to afford glasses or eye exams. In these cases, a pair of glasses with the right prescription can have life-changing consequences.

“I remember a truck driver who complained he couldn’t see properly when driving at night on the highway,” recalls Hege Welin, a Synoptik regional manager and one of ten optometrists who travelled to Nicaragua as part of the initiative. “He had a vision strength of -7.5 which means he could barely see something a few feet away. By giving him eyeglasses to improve his vision we helped protect his life and probably that of others too.”

Hege is proud to have helped change so many people’s lives in such a positive way, and is looking forward to an opportunity to do so again. “This is one of the reasons I started working at Synoptik. It feels great to be able to help children and adults in this way and it changes you as a person in a good way.”

Hege Welin helps a little boy in Nicaragua to get glasses
“I remember a truck driver who complained he couldn’t see properly when driving at night on the highway. He had a vision strength of -7.5 which means he could barely see something a few feet away."

Hege Welin, a Synoptik regional manager and one of ten optometrists who travelled to Nicaragua as part of the initiative.