Desire to give something back to your community at an early age is truly admirable. However, when a young person is motivated by his her personal experience with the issue, it is even more inspiring. James Aschkenasy, a 13-year old Philadelphia resident, is a perfect example of that. 

James has been affected by poor vision since the age of nine. Seeing the world through glass lenses compelled him to help people in his community receive proper eye care. At a very young age, James showcased his resourcefulness by organizing an annual eye care clinic for low-income individuals in Philadelphia. Driven by his passion, he collected over a hundred eyeglass frames, attracted volunteer medical professionals to conduct glaucoma screenings for patients, rented a space for the free clinic, and fundraised money to purchase new lenses.

James is currently working on increasing the number of glaucoma screenings. He partnered with People’s Emergency Center and Scheie Eye institute to obtain the necessary resources. Since glaucoma causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve through increased pressure inside the patient’s eye, it is crucial to ensure detect glaucoma at an early stage for proper treatment. Without proper care, glaucoma can result in vision loss. James’s work in creating equal eye care opportunities has made it possible for over 200 Philadelphians to receive eye exams at no cost.

Even though organizing something like a free eye clinic might seem daunting for some, James shows that building partnerships with the right individuals and identifying resources available can make a huge impact on our community. He has held free eye clinics for the last two years and continues to engage volunteers, professionals, and organizations into working together for a better and healthier community.