Restoring Vision Issues 1,000,000 Pair of Glasses

One man had a vision – and now one million underprivileged people can see better for it.

Non-profit group RestoringVision.org issues its 1,000,000th pair of glasses

By day, Mark Sachs is a product manager for Blue Shield of California, where he helps California policyholders get the support they need to protect their health. By night, Sachs is a virtual one-man healthcare machine, seeing to it that poverty-stricken people around the world get the much-needed vision correction they can’t get anywhere else.

Now, just seven years after founding RestoringVision.org in the basement of his home north of San Francisco, Sachs’ non-profit organization has reached a milestone achievement: issuing its millionth pair of reading glasses, which Damascus Road Community Church recently delivered during a mission to Honduras. “It’s wonderful and humbling at the same time,” said Sachs. “I wanted to do something to help people, but I never would have dreamed that we’d be able to help so many people in so many different places as quickly as we have.”

The idea for RestoringVision.org came to Sachs during an eye-opening trip he made to Mexico in 1997. “While I was there, I couldn’t believe how many people were struggling to get by with obvious vision problems – and then I realized that a huge percentage of these problems could be fixed with just a simple pair of reading glasses,” said Sachs. “So, I decided to do something about it.”

What Sachs did was reach out to leading eye care companies and share his vision: instead of just warehousing or writing off overstocked readers, the companies could provide the glasses to RestoringVision.org, which would then handle the logistics of getting them to mission groups headed out to improve the lives of others. Reader manufacturers Zoom Eyeworks and Foster Grant agreed to supply Sachs with product, while companies like Transitions Optical and America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses stepped up with cash support.

According to Reade Fahs, America’s Best CEO, Sachs and RestoringVision.org are serving a glaring need. “There are roughly 670 million people in the world who need vision correction, and around 40 percent of the glasses they need are standard reading glasses,” said Fahs. “But these people simply don’t have the access or means to acquire them. Mark Sachs and RestoringVision.org have done an absolutely awe-inspiring job of filling that need.”

RestoringVision.org has the assistance of a handful of dedicated volunteers and supporters. Document management company Ft. Docs has donated storage space for all of the glasses since the beginning, while the group Becoming Independent which works with developmentally challenged adults, assembles them into mission-ready packages consisting of 300 pairs of readers of assorted powers.

So far, RestoringVision.org has distributed roughly $10 million worth of kits of readers and sunglasses to missions bound for Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Ghana, Honduras, India, Peru, El Salvador, and Nigeria. “One million pairs is a tremendous milestone, but I have no intention of slowing down,” said Sachs. “I encourage any groups that are planning a mission to visit our website, restoringvision.org, and make distributing reading glasses a meaningful part of their commitment to the people they serve.”

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Founded in 2003, RestoringVision.org is a non-profit effort that delivers reading glasses and sunglasses to underprivileged people worldwide that desperately need them. Citing the need for low overhead and the favorable commute, founder Mark Sachs continues to operate the organization from his basement north of San Francisco.

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