RestoringVision was born out of a need and desire to help. In 1994, when I was working as a Marketing Director in the optical industry I was invited by LensCrafters to join their corporate social responsibility program on a trip to Albania. A year later we went to Mexico. On these trips, optometrists performed eye exams while non-eyecare professionals like me fitted people with used prescription glasses.
The experience was life-changing. I saw an overwhelming need for the glasses. People traveled 10, 20 and even 30 miles to come to the clinic – so great was their desire for improved vision! While our primary goal was to fit people with prescription glasses, many people only needed non-prescription reading glasses. In fact, we ran out of the reading glasses before the week was over.
When I returned to the US, I was inspired to do more. I contacted several reading glass manufacturers and asked if they had excess inventory that they would be willing to donate to those in need in developing countries. I also asked optical groups traveling abroad if they had a need for more reading glasses. Both groups said yes! And from this, RestoringVision was born.
“What is really exciting for me about RestoringVision is the impact that, together with our partners, we are making around the world, and what the numbers actually represent. They represent the thousands of people who can read again, who can continue in their jobs, who can remain productive members of their communities, and even the children who can go to school rather than stay home to be the eyes of their parents and grandparents. That’s what RestoringVision means to me.”
In 2003, we received the first donation of new glasses. The glasses arrived at my home and I repackaged and shipped them to charitable organizations across the US. But soon the volumes became overwhelming. Fortunately, I found an organization of people with disabilities who sorted, packed and shipped the orders.
As supply increased, I knew there were more organizations who could use the glasses. I discovered that not only optical groups but also non-optical missions were willing to take reading glasses to those in need. They saw for themselves how easy it was to distribute glasses and how life-altering these glasses were. Their success made them tell others. And so we grew by word of mouth.
With time, the donations from manufacturers increased, and so did the number of partners who would take the glasses to developing countries. To date, we have built a network of over 2,700 organizations that collectively have impacted 25 million lives worldwide!
As more people are helping, more people are helped. They are experiencing the joy of transforming lives in a simple way. And we’re glad to have been helpful in allowing others to give the gift of sight.
Mark Sachs, Founder