For the August 2018 issue of Nonprofits Matter, we are shining our spotlight on New Eyes for the Needy.

Vision loss has a crippling impact

Did you know that 8.2 million Americans with vision loss and 600 million people in the developing world with vision loss are poor or near poor?

Exactly what does ‘vision loss’ mean to these millions of impoverished people? How does it shape their lives every day? 

Vision loss means that school children cannot read the board and follow a teacher’s lessons; it means being unable to hold a job; it means being unable to get to work by public transportation; it means being unable to function fully in today’s dynamic world.

But there is something that is being done to change the lives of millions of people both here at home and globally to give them the chance to fully participate in life.

What is being done is the work of New Eyes for the Needy, a nonprofit organization founded in 1932 to improve the vision of the poor. In the more than eight decades since its inception, the vision of over nine million people has improved thanks to New Eyes’ glasses.  During that same time, 431,273 glasses were purchased by New Eyes as it worked to fulfill its mission - making it possible for those in financial need to enjoy all the benefits that come with good vision.

Data demonstrates another successful year

Under the guidance of today’s Board Co-Presidents, Susan Dyckman and Rachel Weinberger, and Executive Director, Jean Gajano, New Eyes continues to point with pride at their ability to establish and attain extraordinary goals – just as they have done since they first opened their doors. 

They have:

  • Distributed  239,355 used glasses to the poor in 32 developing countries in 2017-18
  • Distributed 10,667 glasses to people in the United States in 2017-18
  • Spent $350,816 on the purchase of new eyeglasses

So much is happening –what’s the impact?

There is no question of the effectiveness of the New Eyes program. Gratitude permeates every comment:

David, age 61, writes, “My eyes were so bad, I had a hard time reading signs. What a big difference this made.”

The mother of Joseph, age 5, shares a message, noting, “My son’s New Eyes’ glasses have been such a blessing. He does not worry any longer about how to compete with the other students or challenges in the classroom.” 

And from around the world come observations of life changing situations. “Thank you on behalf of the people of Kenya…Thank you for the eye glasses which allowed the eye doctors to provide care for the poor in Lascahobas…When I traveled to Laos, I took 200 hundred pairs of reading glasses to this poor farming region…Cambodia’s teams returned last week after serving over 1,588 patients over eight clinic days in rural Kampot.”

While a strong board of trustees, volunteers, staff and clients all have plenty to say about the possibilities that New Eyes has created, the words of honorary Chair of the Advisory Board, Jake Gyllenhaal, are  moving,  “When my grandfather got glasses for the first time, the world really opened up for him. That's why he always donated old frames to New Eyes for the Needy. Now I'm their spokesperson and I hope to make my grandpa proud."

How do they accomplish this?

In the United States
The organization purchases new prescription eyeglasses through a voucher program for children and adults in the United States who cannot afford to purchase glasses on their own. All donations of jewelry, watches, silverware and giftware are sold at their Fabulous Finds Resale Shop and the proceeds from the sales are used to help support the U.S. eyeglass voucher program.

In addition, New Eyes supports the poor around the world by distributing recycled glasses that have been donated for this purpose.   Eyeglasses in good condition are sent to medical missions and international charitable organizations for distribution to the poor in developing nations. This program, which includes sorting, testing and packaging used glasses, is managed by hundreds of adult and student volunteers who are dedicated to its success.

What can you do to help?

If you have glasses or other items to donate, you can drop them off in the collection box behind the New Eyes building at 549 Millburn Ave, Short Hills, NJ. Alternatively you can bring them into the office during office hours on, Monday-Thursday, 9am-4pm and on Friday 9am-12pm (closed Fridays in July and August).

For more information on how to volunteer or donate, visit