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Eyeglasses for Those in Need 

New Eyes founded in 1932 by a NJ resident Julia Lawrence Terry is a 501c3 non-profit that helps people around the world that require corrective eyewear. They provide Rx glasses to children and adults to help them to reach their goals by improving their vision.

Julia Lawrence Terry was a volunteer for the Red Cross in Lower Manhattan when she began collecting eyeglasses for Red Cross applicants who could not see to read the forms. Terry realized that a better solution was to provide them with their own prescription glasses. She however took it one step further and obtained her smelter’s license and began collecting eyeglasses so that the gold frames could be melted down and the proceeds could be used to buy new eyewear.

Since its inception into the non-profit sector, New Eyes has helped over 8 million people around the globe making their futures brighter through clear vision. They have purchased over 400,000 eyeglasses for the disadvantaged in the U.S. alone since their start. In 2014 they provided new eyewear for 6,656 people in the U.S. and 400,000 used glasses overseas.

Obviously to provide this service, they have to screen everyone through applications to assure they meet the necessary guidelines. And they also rely heavily on funding from different resources.

On their website you can read the testimonials that people write stating how getting this eyewear has changed their life! It must be a great feeling to know that you are part of that when you donate or are involved with New Eyes.

I had the chance to interview Jean Gajano, Executive Director:

EYECARE PROFESSIONAL: Jean – Tell me a little about your involvement with New Eyes?

Jean Gajano: I joined New Eyes in 2009 as the Volunteer Manager responsible for working directly with the hundreds of people who volunteer at New Eyes every year. While my background was in finance, I had also led several volunteer groups in my community and enjoyed working toward needs-based solutions with like-minded people. And as someone with compromised vision (with diopters of -9 and -10) I was naturally drawn to New Eyes’ mission to assist the neediest with the simple yet critical tool of eyeglasses. In 2014, the Board of Trustees offered me the position of Executive Director.

ECP: What type of organizations do you send the eyeglasses to?

JG: New Eyes partners with hundreds of organizations, including large ones like Feed the Children and Physicians for Peace, as well as smaller civic and religious groups, college students and optical professionals conducting medical clinics.

ECP: Currently, how many countries are you helping with eyeglasses?

JG: In our last fiscal year, over 250,000 New Eyes used glasses reached 21 countries in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

ECP: Do you provide them with RX sun wear as well?

JG: Yes. New Eyes has great demand for sunglasses for prescription and non-prescription sunglasses for adults and children from our mission partners, especially those working in countries on or near the equator.

ECP: What is the New Prescription Eyeglass Program and how can we tell people what to do that need your help? Where do they go?

JG: New Eyes provides new prescription eyeglasses for children and adults in need in the United States through our voucher program. They can apply to New Eyes through their social worker, primary care physician or house of worship by downloading our application from our website at and returning the completed form to us with a copy of their eyeglass prescription. Once approved, we send them a voucher for a basic pair of eyeglasses that they can take to any local optical dispenser as long as the dispenser accepts New Eyes’ reimbursement rates. There is no out-of-pocket expense to our voucher recipients.

ECP: What can ECP’s in the industry do to help you?

JG: ECP’s can help New Eyes in many ways. They can conduct used glasses collections; partner with New Eyes in commercial ventures; donate overstocked items; accept New Eyes vouchers from our clients; sponsor our EyeRock fund-raising event in New York City during Vision Expo East in April 2016; and make a tax-deductible financial donation at (100% of individual donations go towards the purchase of new eyeglasses).

A big thank you to New Eyes and Jean Gajano for sharing this information with EyeCare Professional Magazine. We are dedicated to helping everyone know about the organizations in the industry for “giving back”.

Quotes from New Eyes Overseas Used Eyeglass Program

From Nicaragua:
"Thanks again for the hundred pairs of glasses, which I brought on my Alumni Service Corps trip to Troilo, Nicaragua.This is a small community without electricity and running water, located over one hour on dirt roads outside of Leon. It was an incredible experience to help each community resident try on a pair of glasses and see clearly for the very first time. They cried and we all cried, too. Their faces captured it all expressing such joy.
After the first residents received glasses, a daily hour-long line began to form outside the makeshift medical clinic, full of men, women and children. At the end of our stay, it was exciting to see all the Troilo residents wearing your glasses! New Eyes made a difference and changed their lives. Our lives were changed, too, and we cannot wait to do it again!

-Lise Chapman

From Honduras
“Over two weeks, the Eye Team was able to assist over 550 people….There were some who needed surgery, many who needed something soothing for sore eyes, a few who needed only sunglasses, and the overwhelming majority who needed glasses to help in their daily activities as well as reading. There were so many special moments, but they all had one thing in common in the end. The beaming smiles said it all, even before each individual gave thanks in their own way. From a 6 year old boy who received glasses to correct his myopia, to the teacher who could not see clearly to read to his class, to the truck driver who could now see where he was going, to the elderly woman who was ecstatic to be able to read her bible again…Thank you to New Eyes.”
-Michael Rieger

From Ghana
“You donated several hundred glasses which we took to Abetifi, Ghana this July. We saw 1,700 patients over 2 weeks. We performed 77 cataract surgeries and we distributed nearly all of the glasses you donated (about 150 pounds of weight). Thank you very much again for your generous donation.”
-Judith Simon, MD

Lynnette Blanton, Editor

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