Pre-Optometry Club students (from left) Tina Ingoldsby, Yunho Kim, Xavier Robinson, Cortney Luehrmann and Lucy Ellermann show off donated eyeglasses and cases they received last year during an eyeglasses collection to benefit people in need in developing countries. The group, led this year by Ellermann, are once again collecting used eyeglasses and cases at two locations: the Millennium Student Center Bridge and at the Marillac Hall lobby. (Photo by August Jennewein)

So you have new eyeglasses, but you can’t seem to part with that older pair. A trio of optometry student groups at the University of Missouri–St. Louis has a good reason for you to cut back on the clutter. They are collecting used eyeglasses to benefit people in need in developing countries through Feb. 29 at two locations on campus.

Donations can be dropped off at student-decorated collection boxes set up on the Millennium Student Center Bridge on North Campus and at the Marillac Hall lobby on South Campus.

Once the collection ends, the eyeglasses will be turned over to Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, an international organization dedicated to the provision of eye-care services for those below the poverty line or without access to local eye care.

Barbara Brown, director of student recruitment and admissions in the College of Optometry at UMSL, said the collection has proven successful during each of its two previous years. The students collected more than 700 pairs of eyeglasses in the last two years. But there remains a need.

“Most people do not realize the great need for eyeglasses in Third World countries,” said Lucy Ellermann, co-president of the Pre-Optometry Club at UMSL and coordinator of the eyeglasses drive. “Materials, such as frames and lenses, are scarce but so are vision and medical attention.”

Ellermann pointed out that the World Health Organization estimates 153 million people worldwide live with visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors and need eyeglasses.

“Every year the Pre-Optometry Club at UMSL attempts to improve this situation, as well as bring awareness to the St. Louis area,” she said.

In addition to the Pre-Optometry Club, UMSL student groups involved in the drive include Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity and the National Optometric Student Association.

For more information, e-mail Lucy Ellermann at or contact Barbara Brown at 314-516-6030 or by email at

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

Eye on UMSL: A day in the life

Students from UMSL’s College of Optometry and College of Nursing participated in a simulation designed to expose them to the complexities of poverty.