GRIFFITH optometrist Chris McTaggart is putting his skills towards a noble cause, travelling to the most remote areas of Nepal to help vision-impaired sufferers.
Four out of five blind or visually impaired people have avoidable symptoms, with preventable causes as high as 80 per cent.
Ninety per cent of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries such as Nepal, which is why programs such as the one Mr McTaggart is about to embark on are so important.
Mr McTaggart said hearing the stories from others making the trip convinced him the cause was something he wanted to embrace.
“It's more the people that I know who have gone across themselves have always said they have got a fair bit out of it,” he said.
“They seem to come home and feel like they have made a bit of a difference.
“Take the five-hour bus rides to the middle of nowhere to help people who don’t have that much and help them to see a bit better.”
The ride will be short-term pain for Mr McTaggart, who emphasised the primary cause of vision impairment is uncorrected refractive errors, often thanks to a lack of access. “These are people who don't have access or can't afford eye tests and specs,” he said.
"The main goal is just to help out, really. It's not a tourist trip, it's about doing some work to try and help people as much as possible.”
The optometrist said the trip has been a long time in the planning, but his enthusiasm for the adventure grows as his departure date fast approaches.
“We have been planning the trip for the last six months or so,” he said. "They do this trip every year and the last few years it has been a bit difficult to commit, but this year everything has worked out and now here we are preparing to head across to Nepal.”
Mr McTarggart has encouraged people with old glasses they no longer use to donate them to Rotary and Lions Club who send the specs to places like Nepal and the Pacific Islands to help those areas.
According to the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, about 285 million people around the world are visually impaired.
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