A surgical outreach programme to the Solomon Islands resulted in a lightbulb moment which has changed the course of my career. My husband Phil Crowe (New South Wales & University 1980) had made several trips there to provide general surgical care and teaching, and I went along on his most recent trip in August 2017 to see what I might be able to contribute as an ophthalmologist. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there were not the facilities or resources to provide much medical or surgical treatment, but what they really needed was glasses! No one had glasses! I discovered patients could only get tested and fitted with glasses in the capital, Honiara, a 4 hour boat trip away. And there wasn’t much point in making that trip, because the glasses would be completely unaffordable.

Returning to Australia, I started researching this problem. It shocked me to learn that 1 billion people worldwide are visually impaired simply because they don’t have access to affordable glasses. So I set to work and invented the 4eyes Vision Kit, which contains everything a layperson needs to test for and dispense customized, affordable glasses on the spot, in remote and developing communities: a simple portable testing device, a novel, durable spectacle frame and pre-cut lenses with a software programme including resources for training, clinical audit and management. We have conducted two pilot projects in Papua New Guinea with great success. In February 2020, we trained six local people who tested 400 people over 3 days, dispensing over 200 pairs of glasses. We are about to scale up to manufacture and distribute the kits to remote Australia and several neighbouring countries. We plan to conduct further validation studies in remote Australia over the coming months.

4eyes Vision won the 2020 Australian Technologies Competition for Global Social Impact, as well as First Prize in the UNSW Founders programme. We would love to hear from any Rhodes friends who might be interested to find out more. We would be very grateful for any (tax deductible) donations to the 4eyes Foundation. Please contact sarah@4eyesvision.org.

(the original article can be found here)