Specsavers Hastings recently volunteered its services to athletes participating in the New Zealand Special Olympics National Summer Games.

From 27 November to 1 December 2017, Optometry Partner Niall McCormack, Optometrist Erica Gomes and Dispensing Optician Lorraine Helson took turns in travelling down to Wellington to assist at the Games. The team worked at stations set up at the Games site that offered different eye care services, alongside other optometrists and optometry students who had volunteered.

Over the course of the Games, the Hastings team members attended to hundreds of patients per day, performing pre-testing, ophthalmoscopy and refraction, among other tests. Niall said he encountered high prescriptions and retinal and corneal issues, as well as a number of patients with keratoconus.

“In addition to spectacles, we dispensed a lot of sports goggles and swimming goggles,” he said.

The opportunity to be involved in the Games arose through the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF), which began a partnership with the Special Olympics in 2001 to provide free vision screenings at selected Special Olympics sporting events worldwide. Through the LCIF’s ‘Opening Eyes’ program, athletes also receive diagnoses for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eyewear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes.

“It was great to experience something different from the usual and provide a community service at the same time – a really special week,” Niall commented.

He added that Specsavers Hastings planned to volunteer again at the next Special Olympics, which will take place in four years.

“Helping out with the Special Olympics was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to being part of the team in 2021,” Erica said.