Group offers low-cost glasses to all

HOUSTON You are not going to find these frames and lenses at retailers. Instead, several non-profit organizations have teamed up to bring affordable prescription eyeglasses to everyone.

Penny Wilkerson is picking up her new glasses. They are bifocals that normally would have cost her a couple hundred dollars at a retailer. Instead, she is paying $30 at what is called a "vision center."

"They're nice," she said. "Look at the frames and the brand names and stuff. Wow."

So how are these glasses affordable? The organization called InFocus is a local-born non-profit that works with several organizations like the Salvation Army and Volunteers of America to make affordable prescription glasses for everyone.

"We have work therapy programs with them and in doing, so we are able to teach job skills while making very low-cost glasses," said Dr. Joey Dollak, who works with the organization.

Dr. Dollak says the vision centers are open to the public and a resource for anyone who wants affordable glasses.

"Anybody can take advantage of it," he said.

InFocus has several vision centers in the Houston area where customers can bring in their prescription and get fitted for new frames and lenses. For a single-lens frame, the price is $10. For bifocals, it's $20.

For kids, a polycarbonate frame is recommended, and that's just $10 extra. Retailers normally charge anywhere from $40 to $100 just for that!

If you are wondering where the frames come from, many have been donated from organizations and businesses. Some are brand new and other frames are used. But the process to get lenses and frames is exactly like going to a retailer.

"So we make the glasses, verify them through normal quality control process and then we bring the back out to the dispensary," Dr. Dollak said. "The people that work in our vision stations volunteer there, they're all trained and shown how to properly measure and dispense glasses; so yes, they're absolutely the same quality."

For Wilkerson, a new set of glasses means she won't longer strain when she reads books to her 5-year-old daughter.

"I would not have any glasses if it wasn't for this place, and I need them so bad," she said.

There are seven vision stations in the greater Houston area. Four are located at the family center at the Salvation Army. Click here to see the locations of the InFocus vision stations. You can also call 281-398-7525 to get more information about vision stations.

Vision screenings by doctors also are available. Some are free too, some exams cost as little as $12. It just depends on what station you drop by, since they all have different requirements.

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