Optical Express Support Syrian Arab Red Crescent

As part of our commitment to improving eye care in impoverished areas across the globe, six volunteers from Optical Express travelled to Syria in 2010 to provide essential treatment to patients in some of the country’s most deprived areas. Over the course of six days, they visited the regions of Salamiyya, Hama and Alghab to help those whose lives had been severely affected by poor vision. Clinical Project Manager Jill and Clinical Governance Manager Amy fondly recall the life-changing experience.

“We were approached by an Optometrist who actually used to work with us, who now has a branch of opticians over in Spain, and she asked us if we would support a charity out in Syria called the Red Crescent, who were going to be doing an eye camp for six days in several parts across Syria,” Jill explains. As Optical Express is committed to encouraging philanthropic initiatives and endeavours among its employees, the company decided to support the mission by covering travel expenses for our volunteers and donating a total of 2,500 pairs of glasses and 3,000 pairs of contact lenses to the cause. “It was something that Optical Express and David Moulsdale were very keen to support, so that’s how we became involved,” she continues.

One of the most vulnerable and impoverished countries in Western Asia, essential eye care in Syria is sadly inaccessible to many. “Syria is a very poor country, even before the conflict, and with 30% of the population living in poverty, eye care was really a luxury for these people and not something they were fortunate enough to have,” Jill comments. Led by local Ophthalmologist Dr Morhaf, our team of volunteers was able to successfully treat a total of 3,500 patients across some of Syria’s most deprived areas, ranging from adults suffering from severe sight loss to children experiencing vision problems due to conditions such as Cerebral Palsy. “Because there’s really no provision of eye care in these communities, the community was very keen to visit us and have their eyes tested and their eye health checked, so we were very much in demand,” Amy explains.

The initiative did not only change the lives of hundreds of people blighted by poor sight and unable to access essential eye care services, it was also a life-changing experience for our volunteers. Amy remembers how humbling and rewarding her time in Syria had been, and fondly recalls one of the highlights of her trip: “I was attending a site in a particularly deprived area and I had met with an elderly female and her husband, and her husband had explained to me via the translator how difficult she was finding life in general, and had done for so many years because she was really struggling with her vision. I had thought initially that there was a cataract present but then it transpired that this person had never worn glasses before and had quite a significant prescription. When I was able to find the correct prescription for her and show her the world for the first time, she was very grateful and her husband was so grateful, and for me it was one of the most humbling experiences of the trip.” As Optical Express is committed to a culture of care, trust and integrity, we have launched a range of charitable and environmental projects throughout the years. Our Syria trip in collaboration with Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is only one of many examples of how Optical Express encourages its employees to initiate and participate in philanthropic endeavours – helping to make a difference to our local and wider communities and providing our employees with unique and rewarding experiences. “It’s an experience that’s completely priceless, you were able to have experiences there that you just wouldn’t get whilst working in the United Kingdom. So, for that reason I would recommend anyone who is doing Optometry or working in healthcare, if you were given the opportunity to do something like this, to grab that opportunity with both hands,” Amy comments.

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