Spec­savers tests give is­lan­ders sight

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

There has never been a bet­ter time to get your eye­sight tested – an eye char­ity will re­ceive $1 from ev­ery vi­sion test done at any Spec­savers op­tometrists un­til Novem­ber.

Money raised will go to the Fred Hol­lows Foun­da­tion, a char­ity ded­i­cated to eye care in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Since Satur­day, un­til to­mor­row, Spec­savers across New Zealand and Aus­tralia are do­nat­ing $ 5 to the foun­da­tion from ev­ery eye test performed, which will go specif­i­cally to­wards a Fred Hol­lows mis­sion to Van­u­atu next month.

About $30,000 was raised to­wards the mis­sion in to­tal. The money will be used for op­tometrists’ flights and the equip­ment they need to work in Van­u­atu.

Porirua op­tometrist Fo­rum Pa­tel went on a sim­i­lar mis­sion to Samoa last year and stresses how crit­i­cal the mis­sions are to is­lan­ders’ eye health.

There is only one op­tometrist in Samoa, and is­lan­ders strug­gle to af­ford even the boat fare to visit him, Mr Pa­tel says.

Even if the op­tometrist is reached, the cost of glasses is more than half the av­er­age yearly in­come.

Some peo­ple are nearly blind from un­treated eye in­fec­tions they got as chil­dren.

‘‘Peo­ple have been blind half their life or their whole life.’’

Is­land op­tometrists them­selves strug­gle with in­ad­e­quate fund­ing and equip­ment – tools are usu­ally do­nated by char­ity and are ster­ilised over open flames, Mr Pa­tel says.

On his mis­sion Mr Pa­tel checked peo­ple for cataracts and poor vi­sion, performed cataract surgery, and in one ex­treme case re­moved some­body’s eye that was in­fected be­yond help. ‘‘It was full on,’’ he says. Sun­glasses are distributed on mis­sions to com­bat a com­mon prob­lem in the is­lands – eye can­cer from life­long ul­tra­vi­o­let ex­po­sure.

‘‘Ninety-nine per cent of the year it’s sunny and like I said, no-one can af­ford glasses – they don’t buy sun­glasses ei­ther,’’ Mr Pa­tel says.

A vi­sion: Porirua op­tometrist Fo­rum Pa­tel will do­nate $1 from ev­ery vi­sion test he does to a char­ity that treats eye prob­lems in the de­vel­op­ing world.

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