Scaling UK mountains to offer eye care in Jamaica

Optometrist duo will travel to Jamaica to offer sight tests as part of a Great Shape charity initiative

Iain McLaren and Heather Tolmie

A pair of optometrist colleagues will travel to Jamaica in October to provide sight tests to people living in rural communities who do not have access to eye care.

Optometrist Iain McLaren highlighted that in rural Jamaica there are only two public health eye care providers for every 500,000 Jamaicans and no public health optometrists. “This means that 43% of Jamaicans have never seen an eye health professional or been treated for eye health problems in their lifetime,” he said.

Mr McLaren will be taking part in the Great Shape iCare initiative alongside his colleague Heather Tolmie. During the 10-day trip, the optometrists will be part of a project team offering eye care in rural communities. Patients will be screened for high blood pressure and diabetes before having a sight test. Any spectacles and sunglasses will be provided free of charge to those who require vision correction and made in an onsite lab. 

Mr McLaren shared that previous projects have seen over 1500 patients during the seven-day testing period.

Speaking to OT ahead of the trip, Mr McLaren shared: “I am most looking forward to making a difference to people. These people do not have access to eye care and a pair of spectacles can make such a big difference to their lives.”

Ahead of their trip, the duo is fundraising to support the project and will be attempting to complete the Welsh three peaks challenge, climbing Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen Y Fan in a single day at the end of the month.

For more information and to make a donation, visit the optometrists’ JustGiving page