STARTING today, persons who are unable to afford professional eye care services can seek help at the Lions Sight Foundation Clinic at 30 Beechwood Avenue in Kingston.
The clinic, which was officially opened on Friday, is a project of the Lions Club of Kingston. It will initially offer only eye-screening services that will include a complete eye examination to evaluate visual health and detect eye diseases. Eyeglass prescription will also be done.
The clinic, which has been a dream for the Lions Club of Kingston for the past 15 years, was officially opened by District Governor Shirley Quetel-Hendricks, who is on a seven-day visit to the island where she will be visiting all 24 clubs in Jamaica.
"This afternoon we are seeing something that is sustainable, something that is tangible and this is what the Lions are all about, taking care of the less fortunate, and I mean when we do that we really need to do a needs assessment so we can give the support to those who are really in need," Hendricks said.
She implored the Lions community to continue their good work and thanked organisations such as the Japanese Embassy, the German Embassy, the Environment Foundation of Jamaica, the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund and the National Health Fund that assisted the club in setting up the clinic.
Desmond Brown, chairman of the Lions Club of Kingston site committee, which was responsible for overseeing the project, said $7 million was spent to refurbish the building which houses the clinic and to purchase equipment.
However, he stressed that the organisation will need another $6 million to purchase more surgical equipment and to get the clinic fully operational to include surgeries.
Additional funding will also be required to keep it going as although the centre will be charging a small fee for the services, it will not be enough to keep it going, he said.
Dr Dick Watts, an optometrist from Canadian Vision Care, who has been travelling to Jamaica since 1982 with other eye-care professionals to provide free service, also gave his commitment to send volunteers from Canada to work at the clinic.