Optician boosts care in Ethiopia

Alan Bartholomew, an optician at Specsavers in North Shields, travelled with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) to work in Ethiopia.
Alan Bartholomew, an optician at Specsavers in North Shields, travelled with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) to work in Ethiopia.

An optician gave up his holiday to help deliver eye care in part of Africa.

Alan Bartholomew, an optician at Specsavers in North Shields, carried out eye examinations for disadvantaged men, women and children in southern Ethiopia.

The 31-year-old travelled with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) to work at the centre, also training local health staff to screen and monitor children’s eye health.

Alan, who uses his annual leave to dedicate his time to these visits, said: “I was always taught not to waste the skills you are given, I feel very proud I am able to travel abroad and help those less fortunate.

“This was my third trip to provide vital eyecare so I know how important this training and care is to people in Africa.

“We are glad we were able to use our time to set up a partnership with the region’s largest hospital. This will allow children needing further treatment to be referred to an ophthalmology department.”

“I would like to thank all of my supporters for their kind donations and words of encouragement before and after my visit – it really means a lot to me.”

Vision Aid Overseas works closely with other charitable organisations to train eye care workers, establish vision centres and develop sustainable eyecare services in its partner countries.

VAO was founded in 1985 by UK optometrists and dispensing opticians.

Its vision is a world in which everyone has access to eyecare and spectacles. Its mission is to fight poverty by transforming access to eyecare.

In its 30 years of operation Vision Aid Overseas has helped over one million people to see.