By Rhiannon Riches
Eyes4Everest, led by Sydney behavioural optometrist Shaun Chang, is seeking volunteers for the 2016 trip to Mount Everest Base Camp.
Six optometrists are needed from 15 October to 3 November, to travel to the eastern regions of the Sagarmatha National Park en route to the base camp.
A documentary film of the Eyes4Everest 2015 trip is in production and expected to premiere in June.
Last October, a team of five optometrists and three assistants travelled to the National Park to provide eye care. Among them was optometrist Jenny Hsieh, who had been a team member in 2014.
‘The experience was life changing for me. The Sherpa people are so happy and friendly. Many of the guides gave up their own time to help us where they could. It is a unique and unforgettable experience for everyone involved,’ Jenny said.
Shaun says the focus of the not-for-profit organisation is to treat preventable blindness among the Sherpa people who risk their lives every day to ensure the safety of foreign climbers in the Himalayas.
He founded Eyes4Everest after he learned that some school children were having difficulty seeing the board. His initial aim was to examine children but popular demand saw the program extend to adults.
‘On the second mission in 2015, Eyes4Everest saw 472 children and adults across four villages in the western region of the National Park,’ Shaun said.
On the trip, 108 pairs of spectacles and 50 topical medications were dispensed, and 40 patients who required cataract surgery were identified.
‘Many patients were identified to have UV-related ocular damage such as snow blindness and pterygium so plans are being made to dispense polarised sunglasses in 2016,’ he said.
‘The great thing about this eye mission is that you know no-one has been here before. Access to primary and tertiary eye care is limited. Only a few can afford the flight to Kathmandu to seek treatment. For a visually impaired person this is quite challenging.’
Sponsorships and donations are welcome and tax deductible.
Eyes4Everest is sponsored by Opticare, CR Surfacing and the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists.