St Albans optician sets up life-changing charity Eye Need Sight

John Snelgrove with members of his team

John Snelgrove with members of his team - Credit: Enhanced Optical Services

A Eureka moment riding his motorcycle back to the UK from the south of Spain led a St Albans optician to found a life-changing international charity, just the latest chapter in a remarkable career.

Enhanced Optical Services is now open at 209 Hatfield Road, St Albans. Telephone: 01727 817132

Enhanced Optical Services is now open at 209 Hatfield Road, St Albans. Telephone: 01727 817132 - Credit: EOS

John Snelgrove, who first qualified as an optician over 35 years ago, explained how he came to set up the charity Eye Need Sight (registered charity England and Wales 1152660). “One day in 2007 I was riding my gold Harley back from the south of Spain when I started thinking about an article in the Optician journal where it said that 10 per cent of the world’s population cannot work because they cannot see, it’s not because they have eye diseases but because they need, correct spectacles including astigmatism correction.

“The method then was to donate spectacles, but they were found not to work because there are six million different power permutations so it is impossible to carry that many donated spectacles into remote locations, so now they grind them up and recycle the metal which provides valuable funds to the charity Vision Aid Overseas.”

John felt he could do more, and went on to invent a world-first in spectacle design in a bid to overcome these shortfalls.

He created three prototype spectacles based upon the mantra “form follows function”. This means the lenses have to be round in order to correct astigmatism in any alignment, this takes out a crucial step in the manufacturing process, namely that pre-made, pre-cut round lenses allow for the complete assembly of a set of spectacles without the need for any glazing equipment.

Eye Need Sight was set up by John Snelgrove

Eye Need Sight was set up by John Snelgrove - Credit: Enhanced Optical Services

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“My modular spectacle design allows for any prescription to be fitted to any size face anywhere in the world and is a world first,” he explained.

“I then set up the charity Eye Need Sight so that I could promote the supply of any product and service that helps the poor, both in this country and abroad.”

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This is just the latest development in the course of his varied career. John opened Europe’s largest opticians in Oxford Street in 1987, and just two years later ran Harrods’ optical department.

In 1993 he set up Enhanced Optical Services, providing visiting optician services for mental health hospitals around St Albans, residential homes in the Herts, Beds, Bucks and North London area, also homeless day centres across the region.

Centre stage in John's opticians is The Optician in a Box, which holds 3,000 pre-cut lenses and 1,00

Centre stage in John's opticians is The Optician in a Box, which holds 3,000 pre-cut lenses and 1,000 frame components - Credit: Enhanced Optical Services

In September John purchased the opticians at 209 Hatfield Road in St Albans, opposite Morrison’s, with the aim of supporting the local community and promoting his modular spectacle system to other opticians as well as members of the public.

Now he is hoping to encourage the UK’s other 11,000 retail opticians to take up his design on a Buy One, Donate One basis. “If just 10 per cent of the opticians in this country embraced my design on this basis over one year, over 250,000 pairs of spectacles could be donated to non-governmental organisations who provide help to those poor who only live on £2.00 per day.

“A good example of Buy One Donate One is Tom’s Shoes, which was set up in Venice Beach, Los Angeles in 2007 after the owner had visited a shoe factory in Venezuela and saw many poor children without shoes affected by parasites from the soil which were causing problems with their feet.

“Since then, that company has donated 45 million pairs of shoes to the poor.”

Enhanced Optical Services

Enhanced Optical Services - Credit: Enhanced Optical Services

Centre stage in John’s opticians is The Optician in a Box, which holds 3,000 pre-cut lenses and 1,000 frame components. This means he can make almost everyone a pair of single vision spectacles to their prescription in 30 minutes.

John added :”I am seeking corporate sponsorship of my Optician in a Box and I’m happy to have their company logo attached to the kit.”

Want to know more about Eye Need Sight and The Optician in a Box? Visit the website here

Reasons to choose Enhanced Optical Services

We won’t rush you. We know that attention to detail is vital, and our eye examinations normally take around half an hour.

All clients receive the buy one get one free plus charitable donation offer - including NHS clients

After the eye test each client will receive a detailed report on their eye health

Complete spectacles from £69.00 + Free Eye Test with spectacle purchase

Products available from Enhanced Optical Services

Ray-Ban – Complete from £110

Visage – Complete from £69

Alain Mikli – Complete from £199

Starck Eyes – Complete from £250

Prada – Complete from £165

Persol – Complete from £180

Michael Kors – Complete from £110

Oakley – Complete from £80

To find out more about Enhanced Optical Services click here

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