22 May 2018

Visionary teams change lives

| Alex Rea
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Chairman and Founder of ‘Sight for All’ Dr James Muecke AM helps unload supplies in Myanmar. Photo: Scott Hicks.

Not everyone has the power to dramatically change lives. One Australian medical organisation does, by improving the lives of thousands with the gift of sight – both in Australia and across Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

‘Sight For All’ is a not-for-profit organisation based in Adelaide, that is dedicated to fighting blindness. ‘Sight for All’ was founded by Dr James Muecke AM, who grew up in Canberra attending Canberra Grammar, before studying medicine in Adelaide.

Whilst volunteering on sight-saving projects in Asia fifteen years ago, Dr. Muecke and two other South Australian ophthalmologists, Drs. Henry Newland and Bob Casson, saw a gap in the provision of eye health services in our neighbouring developing countries.

The Doctors realised that if they worked with their foreign colleagues, providing sub-specialty education and equipping eye clinics, their work could be greatly expanded and a sustainable sight-saving model could be established. This model became the basis of ‘Sight For All.’

On Friday evening, Dr Muecke will be hosting an evening of ‘Films for Sight’ in Canberra at the Palace Electric Cinemas.

A series of seven short films have been made about ‘Sight For All’ and the valuable sight-saving work undertaken in Aboriginal communities and in Asia.

One awarding winning documentary by Adelaide filmmaker Lara Damiani, was submitted to the Adelaide Film Festival, documenting the passion of the dedicated ‘Sight For All’ team while in Hanoi. Other film locations include Cambodia and Myanmar, Whyalla, and South Australian Aboriginal communities.

Dr Muecke says there are “20 million blind people living on our doorstep in developing Asia, and who make up half of the world’s blind.”

Dr James Muecke mentoring staff examining a young patient in Myanmar. Photo: Scott Hicks.

Blindness rates in Australian Aboriginal adults are over six times the mainstream rate. Cataract is the leading cause of blindness amongst Aboriginal people and is readily treatable. Avoidable eye diseases caused by Diabetes and Trachoma are an endemic problem in the Aboriginal communities of Australia, one of the few places in the world this condition is so severe. ‘Sight For All’ is working together with the Adelaide Crows and Port Power Football Clubs in the implementation of eye disease awareness campaigns for Aboriginal communities.

Dr James Muecke operating in Myanmar. Photo: Scott Hicks.

Dr Muecke says, “We now have more than 130 specialists from across Australia and now internationally, our Visionaries – ophthalmologists, optometrists, orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses, scientists and more, who each year donate over 10,000 voluntary hours toward projects across nine countries in Asia. It’s a phenomenal contribution of goodwill and expertise from our Visionaries and we hugely appreciate their amazing and generous contribution.”

Canberra: Films For Sight, Friday 25 May 6 pm – 8 pm at Palace Electric Cinemas; 2, Phillip Law St, Canberra. Limited seats. RSVP essential – email admin@sightforall.org

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