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Exeter Optometrist needs your glasses for the Gambia


Kieran Loft GlassesOptometrist Kieran Loft, from the Royal Devon and Exeter’s West of England Eye Unit (WEEU), is on the lookout for your old spectacles.

In January 2015, Kieran will be going on an aid mission with local charity the Plymouth-Bissary Aid Project to perform eye tests and distribute glasses to people in a remote part of the Gambia.

Kieran is asking for old or unneeded glasses to be donated at the reception desk of West of England Eye Unit, just near the main entrance to the Wonford hospital, before they are shipped out to West Africa in November.

He’ll be utilising his optometry skills to help people in the remote village of Bissary who have difficulty accessing and affording basic healthcare such as an eye test.

The Plymouth-Bissary Aid Project was set up by David Compton, a teacher at a Plymouth School, making provision for clean water supplies and educational facilities in rural Gambia. Kieran had a chance meeting with David in a previous role at an opticians, when he helped produce some prescription glasses for David’s ambulance driver.

Kieran said: “We got chatting about his project. It has always been an ambition of mine to do a similar sort of thing, and I had done some volunteer work for Vision Aid Overseas when I was a student, measuring and repairing glasses for them to take out on their missions. When the opportunity arose to go myself I leapt at it.”

Kieran will be accompanied on the two-week trip by other medical professionals and teachers, but this will be the first time in the course of the 30-year project that they have had an optometrist with them.    

David Compton, founder of the Plymouth-Bissary Aid Project said: “Eye tests are available in the capital and around the ‘money zone’ of the tourist strip. Glasses with lenses fitted are very expensive. Inland where we are, in a remote location, people will never have had an eye test due to lack of facilities and the cost of a set of glasses can easily be two or three months income.”

If you would like to donate a pair of glasses for Kieran’s trip, please drop them in to the receptiondesk of West of England Eye Unit before November 2014. 

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