Karachi under lockdown. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Spectacled troubled by Karachi's coronavirus lockdown

‘Most doctors wear glasses and now have nowhere to get them repaired’

Aamir Khan April 15, 2020
KARACHI: As businesses and shops remain shuttered in Karachi, difficulties for the residents of the metropolis continue to pile up. Among them are also those who have no idea where to get there spectacles repaired or get a pair of new glasses, with opticians keeping their shops closed, in line with government orders.

In this sprawling financial capital of Pakistan, many have jobs that demand spending a considerable period of time in front of screens and hence, weak eyesight is a common condition among the population. However, with opticians barred from running businesses, a large section of citizens is now in a fix.

Reflecting on the matter, Ayaz Khan, an optician, estimates that there must be at least 3,000 opticians in the city and between 20,000 and 25,000 people are working in the sector, in different capacities.

"Each optician [in Karachi] receives at least 30 orders daily," he says, pointing out that many among those who need spectacles are doctors and paramedics, who are fighting the pandemic on the front line. "Most of them wear glasses," observes Khan.

Besides, there are elderly whose eyesight weakens as they age and spectacles is a must for them in case they want to read news or take up reading as a hobby with not much to do otherwise, locked in their houses.

But where are they to go now with restrictions on opticians to operate their businesses amid a virtual lockdown?

Khan projects that the situation is going to get worse if the government further extends the lockdown.

"People call us and ask whether we can repair their glasses but we have to turn them down as we don't have any other option," he laments.

Keeping in views citizens' difficulties, he has appealed to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to let opticians open their shops even if for limited time, assuring that they will abide by all the guidelines issued by the government to prevent the spread of the virus.

These views are echoed by Traders Association of Marriott Chairperson Muhammad Ahmed Shamsi, who calls for permitting opticians to open their shops for a restricted time period, also assuring that business owners will make certain that all lockdown orders are followed.

"The Punjab government has also allowed opticians to work, stating that the sector is related to medical field, and hence, the Sindh government should follow suit," he stresses.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2020.


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