Specsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation ending avoidable blindness in remote and overseas communities

Specsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia and New Zealand share the vision that everyone deserves access to high quality and affordable eye care and eye wear. Through the Specsavers Community Program, our stores across Australia and New Zealand donate a portion of their glasses sales to contribute to closing the gap in eye health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and to eradicate avoidable blindness in the Pacific.

Specsavers not only supports this work financially, but also through donating eye health equipment, outreach programs and recycling glasses.

In Australia, we work with The Fred Hollows Foundation to support the Lions Outback Vision Van, a mobile eye health clinic that provides outreach ophthalmology care for people living in remote and rural Western Australia.

With Specsavers support, over the months of July to September 2021, the Lions Outback Vision Van undertook:

  • 856 people screened
  • 58 Diabetic patients screened
  • 217 procedures for diabetic retinopathy
  • 7 Surgeries and treatments performed
  • 114 people trained including medical students, medical placements and health workers.

Specsavers also support The Foundation’s work with their partner, the Outback Eye Service in NSW:

  • 85 Patients screened by both the Orthoptist and Ophthalmologist across Bourke, Brewarrina, and Lightning Ridge over a 9-day outreach.
  • 280 telehealth consults this quarter.
  • 262 patients were referred from the Outback Eye Service to seek Optometry services or for further treatment such as cataract surgery.
  • There are currently 108 patients awaiting cataract surgery in this area, this backlog is caused by COVID-19 but also there were floods in the area between Lightning Ridge and Walgett limiting access further. The Foundation is looking to support an intensive eye surgery early 2022 to address this backlog of patients.

In New Zealand, we support The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ’s Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC), a state-of-the-art facility that travels to remote parts of Fiji to provide sight-saving services to people in need. The Mobile Eye Clinic is the first of its kind in the Pacific region and provides a one-stop-shop for free eye checks, cataract surgery, diabetes eye disease treatment and services for other eye conditions.

Unfortunately, due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Fiji, the MEC has been unable to operate. All health care services in Fiji ran on an emergency footing only and no public gatherings were allowed. The MEC was therefore restricted and remained on the Pacific Eye Institute/CWM Hospital grounds.

Once COVID-19 restrictions ease, the MEC will be as important as ever in working to reduce the growing eye care patient backlog and restore and preserve sight for the Fijian population, as well as provide clinical attachment opportunities for both trained and trainee eye doctors and nurses.

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