by Satina Richardson 

For the eighth consecutive year, Community Eye Care (CEC), the community service arm of UAB Eye Care, celebrated the holiday season by hosting Gift of Sight. From November 29 to December 10, CEC provided free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to people in need.

A total of 212 uninsured or underinsured citizens in the Birmingham area received care at the Jefferson County Western Health Center location of UAB Eye Care where Gift of Sight took place. Social distancing requirements limited the total number of patients who could be seen, however, those who couldn’t be scheduled for appointments during the two-week event window will be seen in January.

UAB Eye Care is the clinical arm of the UAB School of Optometry (UABSO). Gift of Sight is possible due to a significant commitment from the doctors, students and staff at the School. Recent graduates also contributed to the event.

Second, third and fourth year students perform the preliminary testing and comprehensive eye exams with oversight by the School’s faculty of optometrists. Alumni, faculty and staff made donations so that patients, many of whom are from group homes or homeless shelters, could receive goody bags with necessities like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, wet wipes, surface wipes, and snacks.

“The event truly takes a village to execute,” said Janene Sims, UAB Eye Care optometrist and CEC director. “With the volume of patients, we all worked long days to ensure each person left feeling happy and cared for. Gift of Sight is a labor of love!”

This is the second year that Gift of Sight was held during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like in 2020, safety protocols were in place to ensure everyone’s safety.