Families from the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society received eye exams and eyewear at no cost as part of a partnership with Dr. Bosung Kim, Specsavers, and The Eyeglasses Project

Members of the eyecare community came together on May 7 to support newcomers to Canada who needed access to eye care. Coordinated by The Eyeglasses Project, Dr. Bosung Kim, along with volunteer optometrists, opticians, eyewear consultants and volunteers from the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) supported 50 patients with their eyecare needs. Dr. Kim donated his clinic space at Specsavers Hastings-Sunrise and provided eye exams. Specsavers donated all eyewear complete with lenses for patients who required them.

The purpose of the event was to ensure that immigrant and refugee families receiving support from the PIRS in Vancouver received the eyecare they need, without the cost barriers that may have prevented them from seeking care before. Typically, PIRS have run eyecare access programs for newcomers at a local church but faced challenges in sourcing the medical equipment needed to provide care. So when Dr. Kim volunteered the use of his clinic, they were pleased to make this possible again and patients who visited his clinic on Sunday received a 3D eye scan with optical coherence tomography (OCT) as part of their routine eye exam.

“This project is close to my heart as I come from an immigrant family myself. I understand the difficulties and hardships families face when moving to a new country and trying to start a new life,” said Dr. Kim. “By having this event, we can make eyecare and eyewear much more accessible and allow these families to start their new lives in Canada with necessary eyecare.”

Dr. Kim was accompanied by a team of volunteer optometrists to carry out eye exams as well as volunteer opticians who fitted prescription eyewear for patients.

Claudia Rojas, Head of Opticianry at Specsavers Canada.

“Specsavers is honoured to work with the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society and The Eyeglasses Project to donate the much-needed eyewear for these newcomers. We had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who are just getting themselves established in a new country, where things may be quite different,” said Claudia Rojas, Head of Opticianry at Specsavers Canada. “Navigating through change is not easy and this was an opportunity for eyecare professionals to help newcomers, immigrants, refugee parents and their young children in Canada overcome barriers of accessibility and cost in vision care.”

Howard Ma, Founder of The Eyeglasses Project, said of the event, “In recent years, I’ve been made present to the refugee crisis happening all around the world. I’m grateful I live in a country that has opened its doors to help people who were forced to leave their homes. I’m particularly grateful for all the volunteers from both PIRS and Specsavers who stepped up on Sunday to make a difference in the lives of these people who really have nowhere else to go.”

“When newcomers receive timely and appropriate healthcare, they are better equipped to engage in their daily lives, attend school or work, and pursue their personal goals,” said Valerie Lai, Program Manager at Pacific Immigrant Resources Society. “This can contribute to increased self-esteem, confidence, and social connectedness, promoting their overall adjustment and successful integration into Canadian society.”


Dr. Bosung Kim (L) and Claudia Rojas (C) with The Eyeglasses Project and Pacific Immigrant Resources Society.

Dr. Kim hopes that all Canadians can be inspired to seek eyecare more regularly, “It’s important for all Canadians to get regular eye exams to protect and retain their vision as many eye health conditions, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, can progress without symptoms. I want to take this opportunity to send everyone a friendly reminder to go visit your local optometrist for a routine examination,” said Dr. Kim.

Specsavers entered the Canadian market in 2021 with a purpose to change lives through better sight. Community-based programs, like this event, are a priority for Specsavers, and they intend to continue developing such programs to help communities that need access to eyecare and eyewear the most.

To learn more about PIRS, how you can access their services, or how you can support their work, visit pirs.bc.ca.

Watch film