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In Uganda, Wazi Vision changes lives through innovative eye care

Engineer displays a frame to be cut, A Wazi frame being smoothened.   -  
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Raziah Athman @Africanews -

Uganda

Wazi Vision conducts many eye test camps in hard-to-reach areas around Uganda. The free services cater to those who ordinarily wouldn’t afford to see an ophthalmologist, yet vision problems are common in the country.

And with a cross-subsidization model, those who are diagnosed with refractive errors get eyewear they manufacture, at affordable prices.

Jane Nabbosais a businesswoman, benefitted from the service: "Since I got these spectacles, I can read. Then I wasn’t able because I couldn’t see small letters but now I can read the bible, I can read everything".

At the workshop in Kampala, the eye clinic is ever open since the needs are huge: "We know that as we grow there is a reading tendency and most people have been cut off from reading because of presbyopia in most cases and we have encountered a lot of those cases", ophthalmologistFrank Bogere explains.

When a team of innovators started Wazi in 2016, they wanted to create accessibility to eyewear for marginalized communities.

To design eyewear fitting African facial features

Using recycled plastic, it is the first company in East Africa to design and manufacture eyewear. They also use other locally available materials like cow horns, bamboo, and offcuts from clothes like jeans. And, they produce custom-made frames. 

It is a source of pride for Geogette Ochieng Ndabukiye, the co-founder of CMO: "Eyewear frames that people wear are not for their facial features. They are mostly made for the European and Asian facial features so you find that when Africans, when Ugandans wear their glasses, over time they begin to squeeze them, they begin to get marks here, the glasses fall, but Wazi here in Uganda is the first company to design and manufacture eyeglasses that are fit for African facial features".

The team has now embarked on a designer line of frames for those who can afford them as it scales into other African countries.

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