Caroline brings things into sharp focus

The Oxford Times: Caroline Fisher with some of the children she helped. Caroline Fisher with some of the children she helped.

AN OPTOMETRIST has travelled to Africa to help people see for the first time in 30 years.

Caroline Fisher, who works at Robert Stanley Opticians in Wallingford, spent two weeks in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.

She said virtually all the people she met there had never had glasses before, even for reading.

By giving them eye tests she was able to help elderly people see to read for the first time in decades.

She said: “Enabling 70- and 80- year-olds to read comfortably after 30 years of holding their Bibles at arm’s length was hugely rewarding.

“One older lady walked for over an hour to see us. She could barely see 10cm in front of her, but with her first pair of glasses, she now has virtually normal eyesight which will have a tremendous impact on her and her family's life.”

Miss Fisher, 23, was working with charity Vision Aid Overseas which aims to transform access to eyecare in the world’s most deprived countries.

The charity says that currently about 10 per cent of the world's population is disadvantaged by poor vision due to a simple lack of spectacles.

Miss Fisher, who lives in Didcot, gave free eye tests and prescribed glasses to people with high social deprivation in a compound in Lusaka as well as outlying villages.

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She said: “I have always been interested in Vision Aid Overseas and as an optometry student I applied for and received a bursary to take part in a project in Uganda.

“It was incredibly inspiring and I always wanted to return on a project as a fully-fledgedoptometrist.

“I qualified 18 months ago and decided the time was now right, and was chosen to go to Zambia as part of a team of four optometrists.”

By spending just 10 minutes testing someone's eyes and supplying spectacles, the project team enabled them to support their family for years to come by helping them to see more clearly.

By the end of the project, Mrs Fisher and her three colleagues had seen just under 1,000 patients.

Robert Stanley Opticians has collection boxes in all of its stores in Oxfordshire for donations of old glasses which are given to Vision Aid Overseas to help transform the lives of people in developing countries.

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