April 2011, Namaqualand

alt‘Something for nothing’ became a reality for seven underprivileged communities when non-profit organisation Reach4Sight visited Namaqualand, armed with sponsorship from Hoya Hill Optics, the Diamond Trust and Transhex.

Stanley Sneewe is small and slight, but his size isn’t his biggest problem; his eyesight is. Or at least it was until Reach4Sight visited the small rural settlement of Leliefontein in Namaqualand where he goes to school. Extremely short-sighted with some astigmatism as altwell, he has been
struggling without glasses for all of his 14 years because his parents can’t afford them.


Although Namaqualand is usually associated with colourful displays of spring flowers, this poverty and hardship is the reality for people who live there. Now, with free spectacles from Reach4Sight – the lenses supplied gratis by Hoya Hill Optics – Stanley’s future is looking much brighter


Equally happy that Reach4Sight came to visit her altcommunity was 74-year-old Anna Gertse, who has dense, mature cataracts in both eyes. As she lost her sight over the years, so her life contracted; more and more activities became impossible for her. When she understood that a referral letter could get her onto a hospital waiting list for an operation that would help her see again, her face was wreathed in smiles. Sadly, demand for lens implants far outweighs the number of state hospitals that offer this service, so waiting lists are often long.


altReach4Sight visited the commuinities of Garies, Kroonsig, Spoegrivier, Leliefontein, Nourivier, Rooifontein and Karkhams. It examined 410 adults and children, prescribed 150 pairs of spectacles and referred 20 patients, mainly for lens implants for cataracts, but also for macular degeneration, glaucoma and keratoconus.


‘There were lots of complaints about dry, burning eyes,’ says Reach4Sight’s optometrist Keith Reid, ‘but that’s not surprising in a dry and dusty environment. We were able to help lots of older folk with reading glasses, but about a quarter of the patients we saw were under 40 and we couldn’t help smiling along with them when we saw how thrilled they were to see the world really clearly for the first time.’

Further sponsorship is needed to take the service to more communities. To find out how you or your company can help, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Previous sponsors

Basic Optical

Carl Zeiss Vision
Ebony Optical

Optic Trade Links

Trans Hex Group

Welch Allyn

Lee Daniels