Location: Clifton, NJ
Optical Academy provides eye exams, contact lens exams, eyewear and an eye lab, on-site at schools, offices and community sites. “Parents can’t always attend to their child’s needs, but the educators can. And that was important to us. If you look at the alarming statistics, over 70 percent of children who fail a vision screening never get seen,” notes CEO Abby Ayoub. Even when patients are seen, they may need to be referred to a specialist and never get there, she adds. “If we refer you out and it’s something that requires surgery, we are not letting you go alone.”
Quick Tip: “It’s extremely important to be heavily involved with the community, and then take care of your eyes.”
Optical Academy’s work is inspired by a 15-year-old girl named Kelly who came to Ayoub after failed vision screenings. “When examining Kelly, we noticed an eight-inch tumor that blasted her retina and coiled around her brain. She had lost her vision and her eye was shifted to the left,” says Ayoub. “We immediately rushed her to get an MRI of the brain and did not refer her. We hand-walked her.” In the end, Kelly survived.
Optical Academy sees all patients, including the uninsured. “For every 50 paying clients, 10 children will be seen absolutely free,” says Ayoub. “We’re not funded, we have never asked for any handouts, but we just … go out there, and we make it happen, and that’s our job.”