Since its launch in October 2005, Ster-Kinekor's CSI initiative Vision Mission has sought to bring preventative care and treatment to people who might otherwise not have to access to this critical service.

In pursuit of '#LoveYourEyes', the multi-award-winning initiative has enabled healthcare providers to screen more than 358 521 disadvantaged learners, with follow-up optometric testing provided to about 30% of them. Spectacles have been given to 15 827 people.

The idea is to reach out to people who otherwise will not receive much-needed eye screening and ensure to educate the public on the importance of eye health and the need for regular eye tests.

Vision Mission is supported by Ster-Kinekor's customers, many of whom opt to add R2.50 or more when they buy tickets to the cinema. These donations pay for eye tests and, where needed, spectacles for children whose parents cannot afford this vital resource for them.

Three-quarters of the world's 1.4 million blind children live in developing countries such as South Africa. Their blindness can lead to poorer education, social isolation and increased poverty, according to the initiative.

For every blind child, three children have serious vision impairment and 13 need eyeglasses. Worldwide, nearly 17 million children with low vision or blurred eyesight lack visual aids, services, or spectacles. Another 13 million children experience refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism).

"In so many cases, early detection and treatment of eye problems can be life-changing," says Khumo Bogatsu, acting head of human capital for Ster-Kinekor. "Early treatment can mean that a child's vision develops normally and providing spectacles to children who need them can help them to thrive — at school, on the sports field and socially."

"Through Vision Mission, Ster-Kinekor sets out to bring critical eye care to as many youths in underprivileged communities as possible. This is the second year, in addition to eye screenings at schools and other locations, that we will carry on with a free national screening day," adds Bogatsu.

The free eye screenings will take place at the following Ster-Kinekor cinemas nationwide:
  • Vaal
  • Cape Gate
  • Tyger Valley
  • Ilanga
  • Brooklyn, and
  • Eastgate Malls.
Each Mall will have in attendance primary school learners who will receive free eye screening, as well as the patrons of the mall.

The initiative has also assisted in bringing about 28 corneal transplants and a double cornea transplant to a young man who had been near blind for close to a decade.

Two years ago, the initiative broadened its efforts; it now also seeks to assist learners with audiology challenges or hearing impairments, which are most commonly caused by ear infections.

Ster Kinekor partners with mall management where they will offer free optometry services, food for the learners as well as gifts.

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