Local optometrist Helen Tilley took a break from her Monnow Eyecare practice this month to support some of the poorest communities in rural Cambodia, with the charity Kymer Sight.
Every year around 6,000 Cambodians lose their sight. This has a devastating effect both on the individuals and sometimes means their families go unsupported if the person affected is the household breadwinner. 90% of these cases can be avoided by providing eye surgery and other medical treatment, so the Kymer Sight charity facilitates team of professionals who go out to provide free sight check-ups, surgery and training. The training for local people means so the country will become less reliant on outside help in the future.
Helen spent a very busy week – the team treated over 1,000 people in the week and did 110 cataract operations! “The organisation works like clockwork” said Helen, “each day people from different villages are bussed into the centre and any operations they need are done on the same day. After an overnight stay in a local hotel and a post op check-up the next day, they are taken back home. There are many local volunteers, particularly students, who give up their time to come and translate for you. If they are office workers, they work late into the night to make up the hours they have volunteered during the day”. On the last day she was there she went out to one of the villages to do screening tests for all the 300 residents.
The whole experience was very rewarding, and Helen is planning on volunteering again soon. “The Cambodian people were extremely friendly” she said” and, although I was exhausted by the end, this was a really amazing week”. You can see more of Helen’s photos on the Monnow Eyecare Facebook page.