A group of optometry students have returned from a trip to Moldova where they carried out sight tests and fitted spectacles.
Temporary clinics were setup in village halls, churches and communal buildings. The group included six students and four qualified optometrists.
Teignmouth-based optometry student, Lauren Broderick, said that the most memorable part of the visit was seeing people’s reactions to their new glasses.
“We were in one village for two days, and on the first day, I gave a middle-aged man a pair of distance and reading glasses that had been donated in the UK,” Ms Broderick explained.
“At first, he didn’t stick in my mind. Then, I saw him the next day when we left the school where we were based. He saw me, pointed at his glasses, gave me a ‘thumbs up’ and a huge grin. It reminded me how what seemed like a small thing could make such a difference to someone,” she said.
Ms Broderick said that some people began queueing at 2am for sight tests.
“It made me realise that in the UK we often take things for granted. From sight tests to cataract operations and glaucoma treatment, we are so lucky to have them all widely available and for free,” Ms Broderick added.
The visit to Moldova was made possible because of a number of fundraising events that were held at practices such as Specsavers in Teignmouth.
The money raised was used to buy glasses to fit on the visit and also went towards more complex prescriptions that were sent to Moldova after the trip.
Store director, Michael Todd, said: “Thank you to everyone who donated their old specs or helped us fundraise in our marathon rowing challenge in the summer. It is great to hear first-hand from Lauren what a difference everyone has made.”