Providing eye care in Kenya

Newtownabbey optometrist travels to Thigio, Kenya to establish an eye clinic that will provide eye care over a two-week period

Optometrist Tony McGinn outside a Specsavers opticians practice

An optometrist from Belfast has travelled to Kenya to run a two-week long eye clinic providing free sight tests and spectacles to those who normally would not have access to eye care.

Tony McGinn, who flew to Kenya yesterday (26 March), took glasses with him that have been donated by customers of Specsavers Newtownabbey, where he practises.

McGinn, who qualified as an optometrist 35 years ago and has been a practice director for the last 23, will set up an eye clinic in Thigio, a rural town outside of Nairobi.

The optometrist has been joined on the trip by his wife, Eibhlin, a primary school teacher, and his mother Mona, a retired nursing sister. Mona has been travelling to Kenya for 20 years and will be volunteering in a local hospice, supporting the work of The Daughters of Charity.

During the trip, teacher Eibhlin, who works at St Mary’s On The Hill in Glengormley, will volunteer at a local school for children with disabilities.

Ahead of the trip, McGinn said: “I am really looking forward to setting up the clinic in Kenya. My mum has always been my role model and while accompanying her on this visit, I am keen to provide eye care to the local community in Thigio where there is very little access to eye care.”

He explained that, while in the UK most people are encouraged to have a sight test once every two years, many people in the Thigio community have never had a sight test, adding that he hopes to see 250 people over the two weeks “and help make a difference to their quality of life.”

“Going to Nairobi with my mum and wife makes this trip even more special,” McGinn added, sharing: “The parents and children of St Mary’s On The Hill have been a great support to Eibhlin in her fundraising efforts. The pupils have had Zoom calls and have written letters to the school children in Nairobi and have kindly donated football kits.”