March 17, 2018 5:32 pm
Updated: March 17, 2018 7:07 pm

Free eye screenings for newly arrived asylum seekers

WATCH ABOVE: Optometrists and students from the optometry program at the Université de Montreal were offering free visual screenings at job fair Saturday, aimed at helping newly arrived immigrants find work. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, many of the participants have never had an eye exam.

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An estimated 400 newly-arrived Haitian immigrants received free eye screenings, Saturday.

The Salon des Opportunités teamed up with optometry students from the University de Montreal to set up a free-of-charge, makeshift eye clinic .

According to Essilor, the optical manufacturer that sponsored the event, Haitian immigrants are more at risk of developing sight impairments.

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“We estimate that 70 per cent of Haitians do not have access to health professionals, ” said Essilor finance director Christophe Perrault.

READ MORE: Haitian asylum seekers flee to Canada after Trump proposes end to protected status

Perrault added that increased tropical sun exposure and other harmful factors lead to the population having an increased risk of glaucoma, which is eight times higher than average.

Bertony Lafond was one of the thousands of asylum seekers who crossed into Quebec from the United States last year.

“It wasn’t too bad for me in the beginning. From what I heard, coming to Montreal was the best thing to have happened to me, ” Lafond said.

READ MORE: Montreal non-profits gearing up to help Haitian asylum seekers

Sporting an older pair of eye glasses, Lafond took the opportunity to freshen up his prescription, “I have a little issue when I’m reading, therefore this will help me when I meet a doctor in the future.”

Perreault hopes the eye screening will help give newcomers like Lafound a chance for a full and happy life, including employment opportunities.

“Vision is a handicap in the world that we don’t hear about because it is silent,” Perreault said.  “The reality is they usually don’t have the chance of having a good life without good vision.”

With a new medical prescription in hand, Lafound hopes to bring his life and his vision back into focus.

 

 

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