The Syracuse clinic offers free eye exams, glasses for the poor; “We are not taking any shortcuts”

Syracuse, NY – Kenneth Rolle loves to read, but struggled to see the fine print because he couldn’t afford glasses.

Rolle, 69, of Syracuse, finally got prescription glasses last week at a new clinic in downtown Syracuse that offers free exams and glasses to those in need.

When he first tried on his new glasses, Rolle said he felt like a man who took his first sip of water after walking through a desert.

“Thanks to these new glasses, my eyes feel pretty good,” he said.

Rolle was one of the first patients to Amaus Vision Services, which opened earlier this month at 259 E. Onondaga St.

The clinic is an awareness program for the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Volunteer optometrists and opticians equip the office, which has two examination rooms and high-tech test and diagnostic equipment.

The clinic uses a space formerly occupied by a free medical clinic which closed in 2019. It is located in front of a free dental clinic also sponsored by the cathedral.

Amaus Vision Services are available by appointment only by calling (315) 314-7004. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. To be eligible, patients must be uninsured or have no vision coverage.

The idea to start the clinic started when Barry Vaughn, an entrepreneur from North Syracuse, obtained new glasses from Frameology Optical in East Syracuse, owned by optician Stacy Daniel. Daniel mentioned to Vaughn that she would like to open a free vision clinic for the poor.

Vaughn referred her to Dr Robert Fangio, a dentist who helps run the cathedral dental clinic. Fangio in turn put her in touch with Monsignor Neal Quartier, the rector of the cathedral, who agreed to provide space for the clinic.

Richard Malara, an optometrist with offices in Liverpool and Fayetteville, also got involved. Malara, president of the Central New York Optometric Society, donated equipment and volunteered to see patients.

Vaughn, the clinic’s commercial director, and other organizers set out to raise funds to equip the clinic. Todd Caputo, owner of Sun Chevrolet in Chittenango, and his wife, Amy, donated $ 130,000.

Thanks to this donation, the clinic was able to fully equip two examination rooms.

Malara said the equipment is as good as the one he uses in his offices.

“We are not taking any shortcuts,” said Malara. “These patients are just as important as everyone else and we don’t skimp on their care. “

During their eye exams, patients are tested for glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, and screened for other eye problems like cataracts.

Single vision and bifocal lenses and frames for patients are provided free of charge by a foundation managed by the Essilor group, one of the largest optical companies in the world. The clinic does not provide contact lenses.

“Vision is the most important sense,” said Stacy Daniel. “Without vision, you can’t work, read, go to school, or socialize. It really affects everyone’s life so much.

James T. Mulder covers health and higher education. Do you have a tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or [email protected]

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