Local Bureaucracies Are The Absolute Worst, Volume Eleventy Gazillion.

Kendall Optometry Ministry, Inc. was created in 2003 and has been serving homeless people around the world ever since. They provide gently used eye glasses to those unable to afford them. Their equipment has been used in 79 countries.

From their website:

Historical Background

Each year numerous mission and humanitarian groups travel from the United States to underdeveloped countries throughout the world. Those groups which have optical teams are frequently not well prepared, utilize untrained personnel and have little participation and guidance from professionals. Often large optical teams run by professionals are unaware of new automated methods to properly utilize the huge available supply of used prescription glasses.

Kendall Optometry Ministry first discovered the shortcomings in optical ministry during a mission trip to Honduras in August, 1999 and left with a God given passion to do it better.

Project Mission Statement

Kendall Optometry Ministry provides equipment, supplies, computer software, training classes, and training literature. This allows the creation of an organizational structure for effective optical ministry. The structure allows the creation of proficient teams consisting of professional optical personnel and non-professional volunteers or non-professional volunteers alone. Specially designed computer software allows the data collection, cataloging, inventory control and automated selection of used prescription glasses. These computer programs efficiently interface to numerous modern lensmeters (to measure the glasses) and autorefractors (to measure the eyes) providing the match of glasses to patient.

Kendall Optometry Ministry also provides completely assembled and organized optical mission kits to be used by professional and non-professional volunteers.

Techniques and software developed by the Kendall Optometry Ministry allow teams to effectively assist 3-5 times as many people as before. Many teams have reported that nobody was ever turned away without significant improvements in their vision. In most cases very long lines are shortened or even eliminated. On the average it has been reported that one patient has been fitted with a pair of used prescription eyeglasses every 3-5 minutes.

That may all come to an end if the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners and the Kentucky Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers have their way.

Local news reports:

It’s an extension out of Fern Creek Baptist Church. A letter he received a month ago is calling for an end to these free clinics here in Kentucky.

Kendall believes it’s his duty to help people see, “because I know that there are people on the streets in Louisville who would be off the streets of Louisville if they could see.”

He says not everyone is able to afford eye care, “These are all of the glasses that we have for this free glasses clinic. Those glasses are automatically selected by a computer program that I wrote which is on this desktop right here.”

This equipment has been used in 79 countries. The person’s eyes are measured and the computer prints out a list of glasses that match the prescription. You can find the glasses through their filing system.

Glasses come from The Lions Club and other organizations, “We don’t give out glasses that we would not wear ourselves.”

Originally they had an optometrist partner with them, but the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners and the Kentucky Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers threatened to take their license away.

Kendall said, “Optometrist by law have to hand out new glasses and these are used glasses. We understand that that is reasonable.”

The Ministry held another meeting in March and received a letter saying in part, ‘It would be a violation of law if eyeglasses provided are not new, first quality and made to meet the individuals personal prescriptions. ‘Going on to say that ‘they need to have a license.’

“We are not trying to hurt anybody. If we thought this ministry was harming anybody, we would never do it,” said Kendall.

Kendall is going up against the Board this weekend. The non profit has a free clinic at Norton Healthcare at the end of July, depending on the Board’s ruling, they may have to cancel it.

Heaven forbid someone receive less than perfect help and thank goodness we have local regulating boards to ensure no one is harmed by a pair of eye glasses!