Spectacular effort from Ely optician

ELY optician PJ Du Plooy swapped his High Street practice for remote villages in Africa to help dispense 3,475 pairs of glasses. South African born PJ, known by his patients as Ruhan, travelled to Burkinafaso, north of Ghana to lead a team of eight optici

ELY optician PJ Du Plooy swapped his High Street practice for remote villages in Africa to help dispense 3,475 pairs of glasses.

South African born PJ, known by his patients as Ruhan, travelled to Burkinafaso, north of Ghana to lead a team of eight opticians and three dispensing assistants who spent two weeks treating 4,028 patients.

Two hundred people a day, brought in through an appeal on the local radio station and word of mouth, travelled to meet the opticians and have their eyes tested.

PJ, from Spectacular, and his team, drawn from all over the UK, were working with the charity Vision Aid Overseas to help improve the eyesight of people in one of the 10 poorest countries in the world.


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Prescription glasses were collected from Spectacular's five branches across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and shipped out by the charity.

PJ said: "These people can't afford to go to the optician. They needed glasses for close work and, even if they couldn't read, they needed them for needlework and other tasks.

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"These are recycled spectacles, many of which can be dispensed on the spot. But for some, especially the children, we have brought the prescriptions back to the UK for the glasses to be made up and taken back out."

PJ, who was making his third visit through the charity, has been learning French at evening classes to improve communication with the French speaking people of Burkinafaso.

"There were some particularly bad cases of poor sight," he added. "Some had had cataract surgery which had left them practically blind and there were others we couldn't help at all."

Now the charity is hoping to forge links with a Swedish organisation called Better Life so that surgeons can be sent out after the opticians to operate on the worst cases.

"I really enjoyed the experience of being a team leader," said PJ. "I will probably go back again

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