Located in the cafeteria of a factory that was once the largest producer of optical equipment in the Soviet Union, the optical market in the town of Izyum sells glasses and lenses at bargain-basement prices. Much of the supply now comes from China, but buyers can still choose from stockpiles of leftover optical glass and eyeglass frames that were produced in the city until just a few years ago.
The town of Izyum, a name that translates as “raisin,” sits less than 10 miles from Donetsk Oblast, one of the southwest regions of Eastern Ukraine that has been upended by more than five years of armed conflict. Although Izyum has not experienced violence since the first months of the conflict, the town suffers from many of the same economic and humanitarian issues that have plagued the nearby Donbas region, an area that was once one of the most important industrial heartlands of the Soviet Union.
Read more on PRI.org.