Eye expert visits Africa to dispense glasses to needy children

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An optometrist from Boston has just returned for a trip to Africa to screen and supply glasses for school pupils with poor vision.

Alan Gilbert, who works at Boston’s Specsavers store, visited Cameroon on a trip organised by the Oban-based charity Vision Action.

Along with three others in the profession, Mr Gilbert helped to screen, make and supply glasses to needy school children.

He also helped to train and equip an ophthalmic nurse to enable him to conduct eye tests and supply glasses locally.

The group screened more than 600 children with 150 requiring glasses.

Mr Gilbert said: “Many of the children were found to have poor vision and require strong glasses which otherwise, they would have no possibility of obtaining.

A selection of spectacle frames were taken on the project and, after dispensing, will be returned to the UK for glazing with the appropriate lens correction. The completed glasses will then be returned to the country and supplied free to the children.

“Possibly the major significant visual handicap in the rural villages and towns of Africa is due to reading difficulties in older individuals who don’t otherwise have access to reading glasses,” said Mr Gilbert. “A number of spec vendors were trained with the intention of supplying ready readers at low cost to the local populace.

“This is expected to be of dual benefit in that not only will those in need be able to purchase readers at a fair price but it will help provide both a sustainable service and employment for a number of local people, some of whom were physically disabled and otherwise unable to find work.”

Among those helped, Mr Gilbert met a 19-year-old student (pictured) who was found to be ‘significantly short-sighted’ and will soon be wearing a pair of prescription glasses for the first time.