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Downes Murray International News

Taking eye care to people who need it most

With six million South Africans in need of basic eye care, the South African Sight Enhancement Initiative (SASEI) is on a mission to make affordable eye-care available to impoverished communities across the length and breadth of South Africa, and to preserve or restore the sight of as many people as possible.

Using custom fitted mobile units, trained personnel carry out the eye screenings. SASEI’s first three mobile units are already operational and their impact is significant.

Since September 2016, 14 584 people who live on a social grant, or who survive on less than R 2 000 per month, have had their eyes screened. Of this number, 4 835 people have received reading glasses.

The organisation estimates it will take 52 SASEI units, serving 700 people per month per unit, approximately 13.7 years to reach six million people.

Those who will benefit from SASEI’s programme include pre- and school-going children; the unemployed; those employed but living on R 2 000 or less per month; and the elderly.

SASEI believes the best way to reach those most in need is to place mobile eye screenings units at the same location within a community, and to have them there on a regular basis, so that community members become familiar with the service. 

In this way the mobile unit teams ensure that residents have their eyes checked regulary, and also refer others in need of this service to the units. SASEI’s objective is to provide the glasses and screenings at no cost.

For every one million Rand donated to this programme, SASEI can supply 1 403 people with free reading glasses. Visit or 

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