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Sight on site: Calgary charity brings free eye clinics to Drop-In Centre

iGift Sight provides free vision tests and glasses to clients of the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Its second ever clinic on Thursday helped about a dozen people. iGift Sight provides free vision tests and glasses to clients of the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Its second ever clinic on Thursday helped about a dozen people.
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A Calgary charity and a group of local optometrists have teamed up to help the city's most vulnerable.

iGift Sight provides free vision tests and glasses to clients of the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Its second ever clinic on Thursday helped about a dozen people.

"There's issues that are in our own backyard that we haven't really dealt with in terms of populations that need eye care, that need eyewear," said optometrist Dr. Adam Rahemtulla.

"Our goal here is to not say no to anybody and to be able to provide a pair of glasses for every single person."

FREE GLASSES

Another 13 clients of the Drop-In Centre were fitted for free glasses at the first clinic of the partnership in September.

The optometrists and assistants are all volunteering and the cost of the glasses are covered by donations, so the homeless population is able to get the vision care they need at no cost to them.

The optometrists and assistants are all volunteering and the cost of the glasses are covered by donations, so the homeless population is able to get the vision care they need at no cost to them.

"So many patients that we saw at the first clinic had never even had an eye exam and had huge prescriptions, like a young gentleman who was about 20-years-old. How can you read an application for a job?" said Emily Newitt, an optometric assistant with the program.

Newitt said there was another client who had an eye exam and was fitted for glasses, then decided to sign up for additional social supports the same day.

"I think people often aren't treated just as human beings and I think even a glimpse of that really can change somebody's day, week, month," she said.

 "A little bit of hope and a little bit of care goes a long way."

The intention is to continue the free clinic at the Drop-In Centre every month.

"We know that health contributes to homelessness and homelessness also contributes to health," said David Sawatzky, the senior director of operations at the Drop-In Centre.

"We've had individuals who've had vision of two feet in front of them. (It's) critical for them to be able to get the vision care then need for vision health, but more so for quality of life," Sawatzky added.

 You can find more information about iGift Sight and donate online on its website.

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