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NZ eye worker restores sight to hundreds in Fiji

New Zealand eye worker restores sight to hundreds in Fiji

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A Fijian woman has her eyes tested for glasses


New Zealand eye worker restores sight to hundreds in Fiji

Local orthoptist Ellen Booth has been lending her hand to help improve the sight of hundreds of visually impaired in Fiji.

Putting her valuable eye care skills to work at The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ’s Pacific regional training centre and eye clinic in Fiji, Ellen dispensed low cost glasses to over 300 people, many of whom had traveled long distances to have their vision tested.

And this was in the space of two weeks.

Ellen, who has worked as an orthoptist in New Zealand for over eight years, says that she was shocked by the number of people who required glasses in Fiji.

“I never realized how many people in Fiji have vision problems and often all they need are a pair of glasses,” she says.

“The Pacific Eye Institute, The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ’s regional training centre in Fiji, makes the glasses affordable for a lot of people, which makes a huge difference.”

Ellen says that helping so many people to see clearly again is an experience that she will never forget.

“Over there people are really grateful and it felt good to feel so appreciated,” she says.

“One lady was so happy as it meant she could re-apply for her job; this just blew me away.”

Blindness and poor vision from the simple need for glasses can affect people of any age, from young children to the elderly, says Ellen.

“One boy was having problems reading the blackboard at school, but after I prescribed him with suitable glasses he had perfect vision again. He was so stoked.”

Ellen admits that the scariest part of her trip was discovering that so many taxi drivers had poor eyesight.

“They were still driving their taxis without realizing the extent of their vision problem. It made me very nervous to get in the cabs over there.”

The fact that so many people in Fiji require glasses may come as a surprise to most Kiwis who enjoy holidaying on the islands’ many sunny resorts. However, according to The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, over 80,000 are blind in the Pacific region, 70 % as a result of untreated cataracts. And a further 240,000 people suffer from poor vision that could be easily corrected by glasses.

To find out more about The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ , or to donate to their sight restoring work, visit . The Foundation advises that it no longer requires donations of second-hand glasses


Notes to the editor:
• An orthoptist is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-related problems, particularly those connected with abnormalities of eye movement and eye position.
• The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ is a blindness development agency committed to fighting avoidable blindness in developing countries
• The Foundation is inspired by the example of world renowned New Zealand eye surgeon Professor Fred Hollows
• According to the World Health Organisation 45 million people are blind globally
• 90 % of blindness and low vision is in developing countries
• 75% of blindness is preventable or curable
• The leading cause of global blindness is treatable cataracts, followed by uncorrected refractive error (simple need for glasses).

The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ is a non-government organisation which seeks to eradicate avoidable blindness in developing countries.

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