Belconnen optometrist prepares to deliver eye care in Everest

Specsavers Belconnen in ACT has raised and donated over $1,000 towards Eyes4Everest, a charitable organisation that aims to provide primary eye care and prescription eyewear to communities in the Himalayas.

Next month, Ashleigh Wong, one of the store’s optometrists, will travel to Nepal with Eyes4Everest on an outreach trip. Ashleigh said she first became aware of the cause while attending the Specsavers Clinical Conference (SCC) last year.

“It’s always been my dream to provide healthcare to those who don’t have easy access to it – it’s why I chose optometry as a career,” she said. “I had been looking to get involved with an eye care-specific volunteer program and spoke with the Young Optometrists and Eyes4Everest representatives at the SCC exhibition. I’ve been hiking since I was 10 years old, so it sounded like a great way to combine my dream with my hobby while delivering critical eye care to communities in need.”

Ashleigh, along with other optometrists participating in the Eyes4Everest outreach, will be trekking from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and conducting eye tests along the way, providing local villages with access to eye care and glasses.

“The aim of the trip is to not only deliver primary eye care and glasses to the remote villages who aren’t able to access this care, but also to promote the importance of health and prevention of diseases throughout the communities,” Ashleigh said.

Beyond providing on-the-ground assistance, Eyes4Everest is also aiming to improve the sustainability of eye care in the region.

“During the outreach, we’ll be helping to train and assist local optometrists and hospital staff,” Ashleigh explained. “Shaun Chang, the founder of Eyes4Everest, has also been working with locals to start up the first Eyes4Everest Eye Clinic in Khunde Hillary Hospital in Khumjung, so we are raising money for this as well.”

Commenting on the new initiative, Shaun said, “The Eyes4Everest clinic will allow us to house more sophisticated eye care equipment that is not suitable for our mobile clinic, such as a slit lamp. It will also help us make tele-optometry in the region possible.”

In support of Ashleigh, Specsavers Belconnen held a competition earlier this year whereby customers would have a chance to win the cost of their glasses back by donating to the Eyes4Everest cause. The store also donated revenue generated from frame repairs. In total, $1,670 was raised.

“I’m so thankful to the Specsavers Belconnen team for all their hard work in promoting the awesome Eyes4Everest cause, as well as the amazing support we have received from the community,” Ashleigh said.

Sophie Woodburn, an optometrist from Specsavers Taupo in New Zealand, will be joining Ashleigh on the trip. As the winner of the Young Optometrists Instagram competition held at last year’s SCC, Sophie’s Eyes4Everest trip will be sponsored by Specsavers.

For more information on Eyes4Everest and to make a donation, visit eyes4everest.org.au