A Vision Forward: Sarkesian’s Story

By LIFT on April 17, 2017

Categories: First Person Perspective, Our Work, Real Stories


Sarkesian walked into her first meeting with me with three goals: to find a higher paying job, to complete her GED and, most importantly, to get glasses.

By the time Sarkesian and I met, she had been wearing her last pair of daily contacts for almost a month. She needed glasses, and soon. However, with most of her money going toward essential living expenses, Sarkesian couldn’t afford a traditional eye exam or glasses.

Luckily a few months prior, LIFT-Chicago’s Senior Program Manager Sarah Spunt and I met with Ayo Jimoh, the chief technology officer for Opternative, about an exciting new partnership opportunity.

A Chicago-based healthcare technology company, Opternative created an online-based vision test that allows individuals to obtain a physician approved prescription for glasses or contacts anywhere, anytime.

As a longtime supporter of LIFT, Jimoh wanted to help LIFT-Chicago members access an important resource/product: corrective eyewear. In exchange for members traveling to Opternative’s office to complete their online-based vision test in person, Opternative would provide LIFT members with a prescription for glasses and/or contacts and, if the member wanted them, brand new glasses free of charge.

So, when Sarkesian told me she needed glasses, I immediately reached out to Ayo to schedule her appointment. A few weeks later, on a cold but winter day in Chicago, Sarkesian and I went to Opternative’s office for her appointment.

After completing Opternative’s online vision test – as well as a traditional one – and getting her prescription, Sarkesian got to the fun part: picking out her new glasses from Zenni Optical. After looking at several different styles on Zenni’s website she settled on a pair of square-ish clear frames.

Two weeks after her appointment, I gave Sarkesian her new glasses. Initially a little apprehensive about whether they would look good on her, after trying them on she couldn’t be happier.

“I love them!” she said excitedly.

So much, in fact, that she’s working to save money to buy a second pair—a backup pair, just in case.


Opternative is not a comprehensive eye exam nor does it intend to replace one. Opternative recommends that all patients receive a comprehensive eye exam every 2 years. Learn more about Opternative by visiting their website.