photo: Hilbert Haar

PHILIPSBURG – Seventeen optometrists from the United States and Canada are in Sint Maarten this week to implement the Eyes for a Brighter Future project of the Lions Club.

The eye doctors started on Monday morning with the testing of primary school children. Up to and including Wednesday, 1344 children had undergone the test. 364 students, 27 percent of this group, needed glasses.

The optometrists are volunteers attached to Vosh – Volunteer Optometric Services for Humanity. They spend a week of their time and expertise on the Lions project that aims to provide school children who need free glasses. According to project coordinator Davey Woods, 260 of the 264 children were helped on the spot. Within a few weeks, the other children will receive their doctor’s prescription for glasses from the United States.

Especially far-sighted eyes
The optometrists have also tested 93 teachers although they are not eligible for free glasses. “I do not know the exact numbers, but there is at least one person who has been diagnosed with glaucoma,” says Woods.

Albert Hoffman is one of the participating optometrists. “The children are amazing,” he says. “They behave very neatly and they answer all our questions.”

Albert Hoffman en David Woods – photo: Hilbert Haar

Hoffman says that children in the United States are generally nearsighted, while in St. Maarten testing particularly revealed many cases of farsightedness. The intention of the Lions Club was to test 3714 school children, but that number was not achieved, because quite a few parents didn’t give permission for the test.