An Australian charity that was established to provide eye care to people living in the Everest region of Nepal has expanded its support to Annapurna.
Eyes4Everest, which was founded by optometrist Shaun Chang in 2014, made its first mission to Annapurna last year following requests from Nepalese people.
Mr Chang confirmed that the charity would return to the area twice this year after it was “astonished” by the need they encountered.
“We didn’t actually have time to travel to Annapurna base camp as we had originally intended because the need of those in the surrounding areas was so great,” Mr Chang told OT.
Over 14 days, eight volunteer optometrists tested the sight of 312 people.
The optometrist confirmed that the charity would travel to Annapurna base camp during its first 14 day return trip to the region, and it would then return to provide eye care to remote villages in the area during the second trip.
Growing to meet the need
Eyes4Everest marked its most successful year in 2017, completing three trips with 29 volunteer optometrists.
Mr Chang emphasised that during its missions, the eye examination that it offers people is “very comprehensive.”
“We do refraction, binocular vision and test the ocular health of each and every person we see,” he said.
An investment in technology that enables the charity to record its findings on an app has both reduced human error in prescriptions and sped up the time that it takes for spectacles to be produced.
Explaining why the app is pivotal to the development of the charity, Mr Chang said: “We don’t always have access to the internet when testing in remote regions, so we store the data on the app, and as soon as we have access to Wi-Fi the data is automatically pushed to the cloud where it is accessible by a dispensing optician in Kathmandu who can begin to make the spectacles the same day.”
With at least three trips to Nepal planned during 2018 – two to Annapurna and another to Everest base camp – the charity is keen to hear from potential volunteers.
The optometrist highlighted that its mission to the villages around Annapurna will be suitable for practitioners who may be hesitant about the fitness level required to reach Everest base camp. “The altitude is lower and the scenery is diverse – it’s a great beginner trek while helping people at the same time,” he said.