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Tuesday / May 24.
HomeminewsAussie Behavioural Optom Focuses on Sherpa Eye Health

Aussie Behavioural Optom Focuses on Sherpa Eye Health

Sherpas and their children in the Khumjung Everest region of Nepal will benefit from an eye clinic, to be established within the Khunde Hillary Hospital, by Australian Behavioural Optometrist, Shaun Chang and colleagues.

Mr. Chang has founded Eyes4Everest, to lead the world’s first ever study into the eyesight of Sherpa children, and raise funds to establish the eye clinic at Sargamatha National Park among the local Sherpa settlement.

Mr. Chang believes that Sherpa in the Khumjung Everest region of Nepal, who help people to follow their dream of climbing Mount Everest, are at risk of unnecessary blindness without foreign support.

“It is time we gave back to the Sherpa, whose selfless nature has saved many people from

It is time we gave back to the Sherpa, whose selfless nature has saved many people from the mountains

the mountains,” says Mr. Chang, who specialises in helping children with vision related learning difficulties.

“I was surprised to learn that some children in the village could not see the school blackboard and are in desperate need of eye treatment.”

“It is disheartening that very little has been done to look after the eyes of the Sherpa, who have helped so many mountaineers. It is likely that the eye conditions they suffer from could be preventable with help.”

Mr. Chang said based on studies of other Nepalese ethnicities, the most common eye condition in this rural region could be uncorrected refractive errors. This encompasses vision conditions such as short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism that can be fixed with glasses. If uncorrected refractive errors are not treated, they can cause unnecessary blindness.

The Eyes4Everest team, comprising three optometrists and a pharmacist, visited Nepal in September to begin establishing the eye clinic. Mr. Chang was to undertake research for his studies to become a Fellow of the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists, of which he is a member.

Staff at Khunde Hillary Hospital were to teach techniques for vision screening and the basic concepts of primary eye healthcare. Local Sherpa children were to be screened during the visit and those who failed receive a comprehensive eye examination to help establish the percentage of the population struggling with uncorrected refractive errors and the size of the job ahead.

Those with uncorrected refractive errors were to be given a spectacle prescription, to be taken by a doctor and filled in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. Children affected by eye disease would receive a referral letter to take on a two to three day walk to the Swiss Hospital at Lukla, where an American eye camp will operate for three weeks from the end of October. A second Eyes4Everest trip is planned for 2015.

Mr. Chang says the Khunde Hillary Hospital is still lacking basic equipment and training to address the region’s eyesight issues, as well as glasses and lenses.

To help, please visit www.eyes4everest.org.au

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