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Aichi opticians help out elderly Thais

Chunichi Shimbun

Opticians in Aichi Prefecture are cooperating to gather and donate used reading glasses to people in Thailand, where many seniors have to put up with poor eyesight because they can’t afford to buy spectacles.

These efforts to collect used spectacles and distribute them in Thailand have been undertaken almost annually over the past 15 years. The 14th campaign was held in November, and participating businesses amassed around 2,000 pairs of glasses for donation.

Megane Plaza in Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, played the lead role, with nine other opticians taking part, including Megane no Momiyama in Handa, Aichi Prefecture. They collected the spectacles from customers, repaired the frames and switched out the lenses to turn them into reading glasses.

Tadashi Ueda, the 49-year-old chairman of Megane Plaza, traveled with 14 others involved in the campaign to Thailand, where the group distributed the glasses at two temples on the outskirts of Bangkok after checking the eyesight of potential recipients. The only thing the group asked for in return was a blood donation from each recipient before they received the glasses.

According to Ueda, many residents in Thailand’s rural areas can’t afford to purchase glasses because of their low income levels. He added that he felt a sense of satisfaction when the recipients clasped their hands in the Buddhist country’s traditional expression of gratitude.

“I can tell that glasses are still in great demand in Thailand. If you have any eyeglasses lying around unused, please donate them to us,” said Ueda.

For inquiries and further information (in Japanese), please contact Megane Plaza at (052) 681-8000.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the daily Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Dec. 12.