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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 18, 2004

'Mr. ReSpect' Helps Recycle Used Eyeglasses

A used pair of eyeglasses could offer new sight for individuals within the community who are unable to afford them.

Thomas A. Weingeist, Ph.D., M.D., professor and head of the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and medical students from the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have introduced "Mr. ReSpect," a program designed to collect and distribute recycled adult and child-sized eyeglasses to needy patients at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Community members are encouraged to recycle their old eyeglasses at all McDonald Optical locations and within the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UI Hospitals and Clinics. The "Mr. ReSpect" icon that stands for "recycled spectacles" will be visible on collection bins at these sites. In addition, people who attend Aretha Franklin's Oct. 23 performance will see a notice of about "Mr. ReSpect" in the Hancher Auditorium program.

"We hope to get a big response from Aretha Franklin's concert. Who could be more enthusiastic about R-E-S-P-E-C-T?" said project leader Geeta Belsare, a fourth-year UI medical student and president of the Ophthalmology Interest Group (OIG), a student-run organization that offers medical students the opportunity to learn more about the field of ophthalmology.

To promote the effort, Weingeist and Belsare are collaborating with other medical students, Lions International and McDonald Optical.

"Our biggest concerns are for our local community members who cannot afford to have a prescription filled that will enable them to properly drive, see a chalkboard at school or even perform their daily job," Belsare said. "Many people have their old eyeglasses stored away. By simply recycling these glasses, people will enable others to regain their sight."

Once the eyeglasses are collected, Belsare and other members of the OIG will organize the prescriptions on a database on the Department of Ophthalmology's web site. The specifications of the donated eyeglasses (refractive power, style, etc.) will be available to the faculty and residents so they can identify the best fit for each individual patient.

Eyeglasses that are not needed for local patients will be used by Lions International for distribution.

According to Belsare, more than 144 million eyeglasses are dispensed yearly in the United States alone. She noted that nearly every person who wears eyeglasses can make a valuable contribution to this project.

"We hope and anticipate that other optical shops and eye care providers dispensing new eyeglasses will participate in the future," Belsare said. "Hopefully, we will have a positive impact and that will, in turn, promote our effort."

For more information, contact Belsare by e-mail at geeta-belsare@uiowa.edu.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 5224-1178

CONTACTS: Media: Becky Soglin, 319 335-6660 becky-soglin@uiowa.edu; Program: Geeta Belsare, mailto:geeta-belsare@uiowa.edu; Writer: Christine Nicholson