Specsavers optometrists assist Fred Hollows in Fiji

Two Specsavers optometrists have contributed their clinical skills to an overseas outreach facilitated by The Fred Hollows Foundation, Specsavers’ national charity partner.

Ian Russell, Optometry Partner at Specsavers Whanganui in New Zealand, and Tiffany Lai, Graduate Optometrist at Specsavers Ringwood in Victoria, recently travelled to the Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) in Suva, Fiji to assist in an intensive training program for Pacific Island students working towards completing the Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care.

The PEI was built by the Foundation, and is the Pacific region’s first and only regional training centre for Pacific eye health workers. Postgraduate students are trained specifically to provide eye care in Fiji and surrounding Pacific Island nations.

From 28 May to 1 June, Ian and Tiffany supervised students at the PEI as they conducted patient consultations. They also worked with the eye care nurses to carry out much-needed sight tests, and distributed glasses to hundreds of locals in need.

PEI Director Dr Biu Sikivou said the outreach was a good opportunity for the optometrists to observe the PEI’s operations firsthand.

Ian said, “Over the years, I have provided eye care in Fiji, Tanzania and Vanuatu, and on top of this, have been fundraising for The Fred Hollows Foundation for the last few years. Last year, I even ran a half-marathon to raise money for the cause. I’m grateful to have [had] another opportunity to pass on my learnings and experiences as an optometrist.”

Tiffany said she joined the outreach because she wanted to extend the routine optometry knowledge she exercised daily while helping those with limited access to quality eye care.

“We take the convenience of healthcare for granted in Australia, and I support organisations such as The Fred Hollows Foundation that aim to bridge that gap,” Tiffany stated.

A second outreach trip to Fiji is currently underway, with a third trip to take place at Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia from 17 to 20 September 2018.