A nurse from Optegra Surrey Eye Hospital in Guildford is setting her sights on helping people in some of the poorest parts of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, when she flies out next week with a specialist international team of eye care professionals.Hannah Atkinson, Theatre Sister at Optegra’s eye hospital at the Surrey Research Park, is one of three healthcare professionals and eye surgeons from the UK joining five others from Australia, India and other countries. Hannah has been supported by Optegra, which has funded her flights and provided an extra week’s leave, to enable her to participate in this worthwhile cause.
The team hope to restore the sight of hundreds of people in the Mandalay region of the country, many of whom have been blinded by cataracts and other treatable eye conditions, but who are unable to access or afford the treatment which would help them see again.
Miss Atkinson, aged 27, said: “Eye conditions such as cataracts affect about 70% of 70 year olds the world over, whether you’re in the UK or Myanmar, and can start affecting your eyesight from your early 50’s. But whereas in the UK we have a wide range of options for treatment, regardless of wealth, in Myanmar many people simply can’t access treatment or can’t afford to do so.
“It’s an enormous privilege to be part of such a worthwhile cause. This will be the third time I’ve been involved, and it’s a feeling like none other when you’ve helped someone who on one day was almost completely blind, and the next has had their vision improved. Such a simple procedure often means they can work again, earning money for themselves and their family, and it completely changes their quality of life. It’s not unheard of for people to trek from all over the country to reach our camp – that’s how much it means to them.”
The team expect to carry out over 250 operations during the two week project, many of which will be for treating cataracts, congenital squints and glaucoma.
Hannah has been a nurse for over six years, and has spent the last three years working at Optegra Surrey Eye Hospital, which is the only specialist private eye hospital to carry out all eye procedures in the south east.
Beaver Visitec International has also supported the expedition, having donated some equipment for Hannah to take with her.