Specsavers Community Program supports the Fred Hollows Foundation to close the gap in eye health

16 August 2021

Specsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia and New Zealand share the vision that everyone deserves access to high quality and affordable eye care and eye wear. Together, we are taking action to close the gap in eye health to end avoidable blindness and vision impairment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and across the Pacific Region.

Access to eye care has never been more important. The continuing pressures of COVID-19 is severely impacting these communities and has resulted in elective surgeries being put on hold, clinics remaining closed and services such as outreach programs unable to resume. Before COVID-19, Indigenous Australians were three times more likely than other Australians to experience avoidable blindness and had to wait 40% longer for cataract surgery. In the Pacific, there is a growing number of people who desperately need eye care.

Through the Specsavers Community Program, our stores across Australia and New Zealand donate a portion of their glasses sales to contribute to closing the gap in eye health and to eradicate avoidable blindness in these communities. We not only support this work financially, but also through the donation of eye health equipment, outreach programmes and recycling glasses.

In Australia, Specsavers works with The Fred Hollows Foundation to support the Lions Outback Vision Van, a mobile eye health clinic that provides outreach ophthalmology care for people living in remote and rural Western Australia. The van consists of three consulting rooms, filled with specialist equipment to address key conditions, such as cataract, trachoma, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

With Specsavers’ support, over the months of April to June 2021, the Lions Outback Vision Van undertook:

  • 609 screenings
  • 290 diabetic retinopathy treatments and screenings
  • 33 people trained in screening and treating diabetic retinopathy including doctors, nurses, clinic coordinators and chronic disease nurses.

In New Zealand, Specsavers supports The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ’s Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC), a state-of-the-art facility that travels to remote parts of Fiji to provide sight-saving services to people in need. The MEC is the first of its kind in the Pacific Region and provides a one-stop-shop for free eye checks, cataract surgery, diabetic retinopathy treatment and services for other eye conditions.

Prior to April, when the Fijian government imposed COVID-19 regulations pausing MEC operations, two outreaches were conducted. The MEC travelled to Navua and Rakiraki and collectively conducted:

  • 2216 consultations,
  • undertook 200 surgeries
  • dispensed 1164 pairs of spectacles.

With the current COVID-19 outbreak continuing in Fiji, the team is preparing to meet the growing backlog created by the lock downs in line with Ministry of Health COVID-19 directives.

These practical collaborations between Specsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia and New Zealand continue to help close the eye health gap in Australia and the Pacific and end avoidable blindness in remote, rural and overseas communities.