Banbury optometrists support Cambodian sight mission

Two opticians from Banbury have taken part in a charity mission to help improve vision for people in Cambodia.

Nimish Desai and Manjot Panesar, both optometrists at Specsavers, travelled to Phnom Penh in Cambodia to support a clinic run by the Khmer Sight Foundation.

Over the course of five days, the team, who were all self-funded, (made up of five optometrists, five surgeons and one nurse) saw more than 200 patients, half of whom went on to have eye surgery.  

‘I really hadn’t appreciated the severity of the situation regarding vision problems in Cambodia until we got there,’ comments Nimish. ‘From the early hours of the morning people would queue outside the clinic waiting to be seen.  After examining each of them we would decide which treatment or surgery they needed, and then carried out post-operative care for those who had surgery.’

Some 10,000 Cambodians suffer blindness each year, 90% of this is avoidable. Three-quarters of blindness is due to cataracts, and the rest is due to uncorrected vision, glaucoma, corneal scarring and pterygium.

‘We were surprised by how young some of the patients with cataracts were. This is mainly due to them working outdoors and the UV exposure they are subjected to,’ adds Nimish. ‘We also saw lots of elderly patients too, struggling to even walk into the clinic due to poor vision. 

‘But what was so humbling was the smile that each of them had on their faces, despite waiting potentially for hours – they were just so grateful to be seen and for many to be given the gift of sight.’

Nimish and Manjot hope to travel to Cambodia again this November to support the clinic again.

The Khmer Sight Foundation’s mission is to eliminate avoidable blindness in Cambodia and provide expert clinical training, recognised by overseas professional bodies, for all eye care health professionals.  

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