An optician from Oldham has just returned from a trip to Africa with charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) where he gave over 1,000 local people life-changing eyecare treatment.

Optometrist Dev Rathod travelled to villages near Hawassa to give much-needed eye tests and glasses to the local people. During his two-week visit Dev tested over 1,000 people in clinics set up in remote areas of the country where access to eyecare is very limited.

Optometrist trains Ethiopian optometry students 

Working with VAO Dev also helped to train optometry students at Hawassa University to ensure the area could continue to provide eyecare to its local people after the Specsavers team had left.

Dev comments: ‘In Ethiopia it is estimated that there are only currently about 150 qualified optometrists in the whole population of over 60 million people. The work that VAO and Specsavers are doing to provide the skills and resources to increase this number is so vital.’

This was Dev’s third trip with the charity, in previous years he has also visited Jinja in Uganda. Dev worked as part of a team of six made up of five optometrists and one lab technician.

Optometrist urges everyone to donate recycled glasses 

Dev continues ‘I urge everyone with unwanted or old glasses to donate them to the charity. I was able to see first-hand the impact that VAO makes to people’s lives. Every single glasses donation increases the ability of the charity to make a difference’.

In the UK, infections and other problems with eyes can be spotted and treated quickly but in the developing world, people who have no access to that kind of healthcare are at risk.

Many people are considered blind but simply have complex prescriptions for which glasses can be provided. Untreated eye infections can lead to blindness and even be fatal in some cases.

Anyone wishing to donate old specs can drop them off in-store in one of the recycling bins to be sent to Vision Aid Overseas.

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