Optometry Podcast: Changing Life Through Lenses

Andrea Haymore, Director of Partnerships for Essilor Vision Foundation

This podcast was produced in partnership with Essilor

Have you been inspired to give back to your community but aren’t sure how to take on the financial responsibility of providing patients with the eyewear they need? Many doctors are happy to donate their time to provide exams, but providing the frames and lenses at no cost can be a difficult barrier. Changing Life Through Lenses® is a new program launched by Essilor Vision Foundation in September 2018 that provides a free pair of glasses including no-cost frame and lenses when an eye doctor provides a vision exam to someone in need. 

Dr. Kristin White is an optometrist who has dedicated her young career to service. After graduating in 2013 from NECO, she helped launch an eyecare clinic at a community health center in rural northern California. The need in her community for both exams and eyewear is great, and partnering with Changing Life Through Lenses has helped her take on the challenge.

Dr. White started contacting local school nurses to find out what happens when a child fails a vision screening. She learned that a letter is sent home with the findings but in many cases, nothing happens. If a parent is unable to get their child to an eye exam, there is no additional follow-up or solution to the child’s issue. That’s where she decided to step in.  She connected with school nurses to actually go to the school and give exams on-site to students who failed their screenings. She used Changing Life Through Lenses to provide the eyewear to those students in need. 

Kristin White, Optometrist

“One in four children in the US has a vision problem that affects their ability to learn, and we’re working to address the barriers of access, awareness and affordability,” shares Andrea Haymore, Director of Partnerships for Essilor Vision Foundation. “Addressing access is what Dr. White’s been doing remarkably well, and then Changing Life through Lenses is helping with the affordability aspect.” The goal is to remove barriers for the doctors who are inspired to give back and improve healthcare and wellness in their communities. 

How Does Changing Life Through Lenses Work?

Changing Life Through Lenses is a charitable platform that provides doctors and non-profit outreach programs with prescription eyewear at no cost to patients in need. You can order uncut lenses, frame to come or complete frame and lenses from a set of 57 frame styles that patients can choose from.  There’s been a tremendous response so far. Haymore shares that just since launching in September, there have been 700 accounts registered representing 1,400 doctors, and 65,000 pairs of glasses have been given to patients at no cost. 

To sign up, go to and in minutes you can create an account with your name, NPI number and an estimated forecast or pledge of the number of patients you are planning to help.  You’ll have access to begin ordering eyewear immediately! Dr. White shares that this has been a major perk of working with Essilor Vision Foundation and the Changing Life Through Lenses program. Other charitable programs that provide eyewear that she has worked with in the past required much more paperwork and had more restrictions on patient eligibility for getting eyewear which can sometimes slow down the process.  After eyewear requests are submitted, prescription glasses can be made and ready to give to patients in as soon as 3-5 days. 

If you are inspired to give back but aren’t sure how to get started on a project in your local community, Haymore offers a few great ideas. “Giving back doesn’t have to be hard or complicated,” she says.

  • Partner with local schools to work with students who failed vision screenings
  • Partner with local screening agencies like Prevent Blindness or Lions Club to provide exams 
  • Volunteer to host a vision clinic at a local shelter
  • Host a vision screening at a community health fair or back to school events
  • Pick one day a year (for example, World Sight Day which is October 10th) to partner with local groups to provide free eye exams to those in need

Changing Life through Lenses can help you give back in your own community, whether you are currently engaged in charitable services or looking to get involved for the first time.