Cardiff University students to provide free eye care in Malawi

Optometry students will provide sight tests and second-hand spectacles to an orphanage and members of the local community

Cardiff University students

A group of second year optometry undergraduate students from Cardiff University are travelling to Malawi for a month in August to provide free eye care.

As part of the trip they aim to provide free eye care, vision screening and second-hand spectacles to members of the local communities.

The 12 students will be split into two teams, with one team based in Blantyre and the other in Lilongwe. Both teams will be refracting members of the community, and will have the opportunity to observe ocular surgery and teach refracting in local hospitals. 

The trip follows on from a similar project that was run by Cardiff University optometry students last year, during which over 2000 Malawians were provided with eye care and 1500 people given free spectacles. Free hats and sunglasses were also provided to members of the community who suffer with albinism, which has a higher prevalence in Malawi.

Charity walk

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest counties, and many people are unable to afford the cost of travelling long distances to their nearest eye care provider or hospital, making it at times impossible to access treatment.

Organiser of the Malawi project, optometrist Peter Hong, MBE, said: “The refraction work we undertake now will have an immediate impact on the visual acuity of the communities we support by providing vision assessments and spectacles.”

To support the students with providing eyecare during the trip, manufacturing company, Keeler, has donated an ophthalmoscope/retinoscope set. "We're always very happy to support this kind of charitable work," said Keeler's Sales and Marketing Manager, Laura Haverley. "We believe passionately that eye care and preventing vision loss are critical to overall health and quality of life," she added.

In order to raise funds for the project, the students will be participating in a range of fundraising events, including a sponsored walk wearing simulation spectacles.

Cardiff University student, Anabelle Gorham, told OT: "This will be used as a team building exercise for the 12 of us to get to know each other better, but is also a great opportunity to raise money towards the trip. We are planning on walking five and a half miles to the Pontneddfechan Waterfall inBrecon Beacon wearing the simulation spectacles."

"The spectacles we will be using will simulate ocular conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diplopia and visual field defects," she added.

To sponsor the walk visit its fundraising page.