From pop-up clinic to pop-in exams, teens provide free eye care for those in need.
Determination, passion and vision are qualities that come naturally to Abid and Zoya Hasan. The siblings come from a family of eye care experts, philanthropists and community volunteers. Their parents, Jafar Hasan, M.D. and Afira Hasan are an ophthalmologist and optometrist, respectively, who run Insight Vision Care in Edina.
The siblings started Vision for All in 2019 when Abid was a freshman at Edina High School and Zoya was in seventh grade at Valley View Middle School. They overheard their parents commenting on the rising costs of health insurance, eye exams and glasses, so they decided to provide free eye care to those in need.
“People who really can’t afford it … we’re making sure they have access to it,” Abid says.
Dr. Hasan recalls when the kids first approached them with the idea. “To their credit, they saw an opportunity to use us as a resource, so instead of just sitting back and watching us work, they said, ‘Let’s see what we can do,’” he says.
Free Eye Exams
Abid and Zoya started by volunteering at Insight Vision Care to develop the professionalism, organization and personal skills they would need to successfully run a nonprofit. They then reached out to local schools.
“We got in touch with the school nurses, and we gave them what we call vouchers,” Abid says. The nurses help identify students who struggle to pass the in-school eye test and may not be able to afford a private exam or a pair of glasses. “Any student that they see who doesn’t have eye insurance can come to the clinic and get help,” he says.
The vouchers can be redeemed for a free eye exam at Insight Vision Care.
“We literally see kids who are legally blind, never had glasses, never had an exam, but they’re 15,” Dr. Hasan says. “We get them a pair of glasses, and it changes everything.”
Several times a year, community members can attend events around the city for free eye exams. For comparison, the frequency of patients seen at the clinic is two to three patients an hour, whereas the pop-up is typically eight to 10 patients an hour. Zoya also speaks Spanish to patients, whose primary language is not English—one small way of breaking down barriers to care.
Zoya and Abid also recognize eye care needs around the world. So far, they’ve collected more than 1,000 pairs of glasses for VOSH Minnesota and Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT). VOSH provides eye care to developing countries and LRBT is Pakistan’s largest nongovernmental organization for eye health, with hospitals across the South Asian nation.
Glasses can be placed in a donation bin at Insight Vision Care. Abid and Zoya hope to establish more bins in other eye clinics across the Twin Cities.
While current Vision for All processes and its events run like a well-oiled machine, Abid and Zoya have big dreams for its future. Zoya will be taking over operations while Abid is in his first year in St. Louis for college. They hope to expand the school voucher program in other school districts, as well as gain a presence at health fairs to increase awareness.
This isn’t the only eye care nonprofit developed by siblings. Dr. Hasan was also instrumental in helping Om and Atman Jahagirdar with Omnisight.