Midwest Optical Practices and Associations Attempt to Regroup in Tornado Aftermath

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CHICAGO—After more than 80 reported tornadoes tore through the Midwest on Nov. 17, killing six and leaving hundreds of homes destroyed, optical businesses and their communities are beginning to regroup and attempt to assist those affected by the storms in their areas.

Bard Optical, whose 20 office locations throughout Central and Southern Illinois include three areas affected by the storms, has closed its Washington location.

“We have offices all over central Illinois including in Washington, East Peoria and Pekin, which are the communities that have been hit in a major way,” said Bard Optical owner, Diana Hall. “The state police are not letting anyone in Washington right now.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Washington, a town of 15,000 people east of Peoria, was the hardest hit town throughout the storms.

Despite its Washington office being affected, the practice and retail chain has begun efforts to provide emergency eyecare to the area, a Bard Optical spokesperson told VMail.

“In the recent outbreak [...] many of our patients have felt the aftereffects,” according to a statement. “Bard Optical is pleased to announce that emergency replacement eyeglasses, contact lenses and readers will be provided to help during this difficult time. Patients that need assistance with eyecare can call or stop by the Peoria or East Peoria offices for immediate support,” the statement said.

In addition to emergency eyecare, Bard Optical will be partnering with the Red Cross to collect donations at its functioning locations.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) held a meeting addressing the storms Nov. 18 and is still in the process of contacting the state affiliate executive directors to determine if any members have been affected, a spokesperson told VMail. However, she said, the AOA is offering grants through their Optometric Disaster Relief fund to which affected optometrists who have experienced loss at this time may apply.

Other associations and groups that are reaching out to members include VSP, which is in the process of determining if member practices have been affected or if relief is needed in the area. “It typically takes a couple of days to identify and make contact with affected practices, but they are monitoring the aftermath of the storm to determine the need for their services,” said a spokesperson of VSP’s efforts.

Follow Vision Monday’s latest news for more updates about the Midwest storms at VisionMonday.com/Latest-News . Donations to communities affected by last week’s tornados can also be made at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Hovey/Courier Newspapers, Washington, Ill.