Specsavers tests give islanders sight
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.