Newly qualified optometrist provides eye care for orphans in Kurdistan

23-year-old Sara Sidik organised eye tests for 80 children across two days after travelling to the region

Kurdistan lead

A newly qualified optometrist has spoken about her “overwhelming but incredible” experience of providing free eye care to orphans in Kurdistan.

Sara Sidik, who qualified in October 2021 and works at Specsavers Harlow, travelled to the region in May along with her sister and mother.

Ahead of the trip, the family, from Stanmore, north London, raised more than £3500 for medicines, clothes, wash bags, and other items.

Harlow Specsavers patients and customers also donated more than 600 frames. As a result, Sara was able to take 300 pairs of glasses on the trip.

Whilst in Kurdistan, Sara organised eye tests for more than 80 children over two days.

LM Sara Kurdistan
Specsavers optometrist, Sara Sidik, performing an eye test in Kurdistan

She said: “On the first day I did extremely basic testing to see how well they could see, which included muscle balance tests.

“Then I followed up on the second day with refraction tests to better understand the prescription of each child. Based on the glasses that we then had available, I matched the best prescription to each child.”

Sara added that more than 85% of the children she saw had poor vision and needed glasses, and that one boy was “virtually blind.”

The family are continuing to fundraise, in the hope that they can provide the boy with the treatment he needs. Another trip to Kurdistan is planned for next year.

Neha Patel, optometrist and director at Specsavers Harlow, said: “We’re in awe of Sara. To put it into context, each of us usually tend to see 14 patients a day so that we can effectively test and prescribe the best lenses for our patients, whereas Sara organised the eye tests for 80 children in two days. An incredible feat for anyone, let alone someone that has only just qualified.”

Patel added: “Sara is a testament to our team, but we also want to say thank you to all our customers for donating their frames. Over the course of two months we were able to collect more than 600 frames, which proved vital for Sara as she was able to prescribe glasses with as close to a prescription as possible for these children.”