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Man Giving Away Used Glasses To Homeless Told To Stop Breaking The Law

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CBS Local) -- A Kentucky man who's been handing out used eyeglasses to the homeless and under-served communities around the world for three decades has been forced to stop providing the service in his state.

Holland Kendall said he's provided more than 700,000 used eyeglasses to people who cannot afford them in 79 countries. In 2003, he created the non-profit Kendall Optometry Ministry, Inc., as part of an extension of Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville.

Kendall, an electrical engineer, told WHAS he believes it's his duty to help people see, "because I know that there are people on the streets in Louisville who would be off the streets of Louisville if they could see."

Kendall currently has more than 4,400 used glasses in stock from the Lions Club, several churches and other organizations. He said they are automatically selected by a computer program that he wrote.

"It's a little device the size of a video camera called retro max," he told WAVE. "We measure a person's eyes with that unit and in less than a minute we have that person's prescription."

Kendall said "if I get someone that's within 90 percent of the prescription, then they will be able to see," But that's not good enough for the Kentucky Optometry Board, which has stopped him from providing glasses in Kentucky.

"Even if there's 90 percent, there's still 10 percent that may have issues," said Dr. Mark Stovall of Drs. Vance & Stovall Optometry.

Stovall said Kendall's efforts are noble, but to stay on the right path he needs an optometrist available through the whole process.

Kendall said he has an optometrist on his board, but he is not local nor hands on, so for now, the glasses are only being shipped out of the country.

"We are not trying to hurt anybody. If we thought this ministry was harming anybody, we would never do it," said Kendall.

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