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UAB to Provide Free Vision Care Services Through Dec. 1 at Jeffco Western Health Center 

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At this event, UAB Community Eye Care provides free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to qualified participants.

By Anna Jones

UAB News

UAB Community Eye Care, the clinical outreach arm of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, will hold its 10th annual Gift of Sight event through Dec. 1 at the Jefferson County Western Health Center, located at 631 Bessemer Super Highway, Midfield, Alabama.

Gift of Sight provides free comprehensive eye exams and glasses for low-income or underinsured patients who may otherwise not receive vision care or services throughout the year.

Throughout the last 10 years, Gift of Sight has provided free comprehensive eye exams to more than 1,800 patients.

UAB Community Eye Care is partnering with VSP Insurance, Remote Area Medical and Changing Lives Through Lenses to host this event.

“Routine eye exams can tell you so much about a person’s health,” said Janene Sims, O.D., Ph.D., associate professor and supervisor for the Family Practice Residency program at the UAB School of Optometry. “During a dilated eye exam, we can view the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Eye doctors can see what other doctors treat. If there is leakage, bleeding or changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eye, the same changes are going on in the rest of the body. That is why staying on top of your eye health is important for systemic health.”

Eye exams will be provided to those who have applied ahead of time. Applications to qualify for the eye exams are available through the UAB School of Optometry. If you are interested in participating in Gift of Sight, please complete this application and email it to giftofsight@uab.edu or stop by the Western Health Center Eye Clinic to pick up or drop off an application.

“Although UAB Community Eye Care provides services year-round to people of all ages throughout the state, this event provides an opportunity for all of our faculty, interns and staff to come together to serve the amazing people in our community,” Sims said. “We are so honored to be able to give back to the Birmingham community for another holiday season.”

UAB Community Eye Care Celebrates 50 Years

This year, UAB CEC is celebrating 50 years of providing vision screenings and comprehensive eye care to underserved areas throughout the state of Alabama.

In addition to the services provided at Gift of Sight, UAB CEC provides eye exams to thousands of patients throughout the year at the Western Health Center in Midfield, homeless shelters, outreach centers, reentry programs, and women’s and children’s shelters. The organization also partners with various campus entities to provide care to underserved residents throughout the Birmingham metro area and rural areas including Alabama’s Black Belt communities.

“So many lives have been changed through the work of CEC,” said Scelelar “BB” Jefferson, a retired staff member and one of the founders of the Gift of Sight. “When lives change for the better, then communities change for the better. During my time with the CEC, I witnessed multiple diabetics, who had gone years with blurry vision because of their financial difficulties, receive eye care that allowed them to see clearly. I saw numerous glaucoma patients at risk of blindness receive the medication they needed. I even witnessed those who were able to finally get their driver’s licenses because CEC provided them with the prescription glasses they needed. CEC has impacted communities by providing a better quality of life for underserved communities.”

Donations

The UAB School of Optometry is accepting donations to help make the holidays a bit more special for the residents served at Gift of Sight. Donations accepted include deodorant, soap and lotion. Please drop any donations off at the UAB School of Optometry or Western Health Center.