Access to eyecare in the developing world really is a universe away from what we experience in the UK, as a team from Specsavers found when they visited a vision clinic in Butajira, Ethiopia, this November.

Making a difference

The clinic is run by the eye health charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO). Since 2001, they have sent more than 400 eyecare professionals to Ethiopia to provide free eye tests and low-cost glasses, alongside training local eyecare teams.

Amit Kara, store director at the Bethnal Green store in Bethnal Green Road, was part of the trip.

The store also collects used glasses for the charity, which are recycled to rise much-needed funds.

Really important work

Amit said: ‘This was my second trip to the vision clinic in Butajira. It was great to go back to see the developments that Vision Aid Overseas have helped facilitate since I was last there. The work they do is really important.

‘Over 100 million people live in Ethiopia, and much of the population is scattered across remote, and often hard to reach, areas. Many people lack basic healthcare services, and access to eyecare is scarce.

'There are only 129 ophthalmologists in the whole of the country, and many of these are based in the capital, Addis Ababa.’

Supporting local people

‘That is why the work of Vision Aid Overseas is so important. They have set up five vision centres in the last 15 years, which has helped thousands of people to have eye tests and glasses for the first time ever – and have trained local people to carry out their work.

‘Vision Aid Overseas gives people the gift of sight every day, and as a store, we are really proud to be able to support their work.’

All Bethnal Green store information