A determined Specsavers employee is heading to Sierra Leone to provide eye health checks for vulnerable people in need.

Volunteering with Vision Aid Overseas

Kathryn Brackenridge, optician at Specsavers in Dumbarton, is making her way to the tiny village of Makeni this month with eye health charity, Vision Aid Overseas (VAO).

Following on from a few years travelling in south east Asia, Kathryn realised that she wanted to help individuals and families abroad who have no access to adequate eye health care.

Before signing up for the trip, Kathryn took a VAO course on tropical eye diseases and raised £1700 for the charity. She was helped towards the total thanks to a generous donation from Specsavers Dumbarton director Robin Mitchell.

Alongside five other opticians, Kathryn will be testing in a tent by the roadside for two weeks, providing quality eye tests to around 50 people every day.

Vital eye health work

Kathryn said: ‘I can’t wait to get to Makeni - I’ve always wanted to do something to help people, so I’m so proud to be able to use my skills to travel abroad and make life better for families who are struggling with their eye health.

“I know that the working conditions will be very different and I don’t quite know what to expect but that’s all part of the excitement. I think it will reinforce that we take a lot for granted and that we really are incredibly lucky here in Scotland to have such a robust optical healthcare system.

‘I’m so grateful to have this opportunity and I wouldn’t be able to do it without the help and support of Robin and the team at Specsavers.’

Specsavers Dumbarton store director Robin Mitchell said: ‘We’re very proud of Kathryn and I’m sure she’ll be a great asset to the team of opticians travelling to Sierra Leone.’

Donating old specs

Specsavers Dumbarton currently collects unwanted glasses and donations for VAO all year round.

Unwanted glasses are recycled and the money raised is used to fund the charity’s work in developing countries, which includes eye tests, treatment and training local optometrists.

Specsavers has worked closely with Vision Aid Overseas for the last decade. In this time, the opticians has collected in excess of 250,000 pairs of glasses.

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