Helen Sewell, optometrist at Specsavers in Bishop Auckland and Newton Aycliffe, is travelling with charity Vision Aid Overseas to Ethiopia for 2 weeks from 19th February to work with students at Hawassa University.
She will be training and providing support to final year Optometry students in the clinical aspects of eye testing.
Many people in Ethiopia are “blind” from not having spectacles. This has a huge impact on their lives, but can be easily corrected with an eye test and appropriate glasses. Unfortunately, until only a few years ago, there were no qualified opticians in Ethiopia so accessing this care was extremely difficult.
Vision Aid Overseas supported the set-up of the first optometry degrees in Ethiopia about 10 years ago and every year provides training from voluntary UK professionals to the students. This is important so the country can develop its own eye care system and in the future won’t have to rely on outside aid. There are now about 200 trained opticians in Ethiopia.
VAO has also helped set up 5 Vision Centres in Ethiopia including one at Hawassa University Teaching Hospital. They provide low cost spectacles to the public, but don’t have access to the same products we have in the UK. One of the major problems this causes is availability of lenses in high prescriptions.
Some patients still cannot have their vision fully corrected. Specsavers are donating a supply of lenses for Helen to take with her, but she is also asking if anyone has any old spare glasses in high prescriptions (over 10DS) that they bring them in to Specsavers so she can take them out to Ethiopia. All donations of old glasses are welcome anytime. Monetary donations can also be made to VAO in store.

Helen specsavers