Bellshill optometrist helps eye care patients in South Africa

Hannah McIntyre (centre) with Specsavers Bellshill store directors Kirsteen Newman and Douglas Waugh
Hannah McIntyre (centre) with Specsavers Bellshill store directors Kirsteen Newman and Douglas Waugh

A Bellshill optometrist travelled to South Africa to help treat vulnerable eye care patients.

Hannah McIntyre spent one week in the city of Rustenburg and one week in the town of Zeerust on a specially-designed train which serves as a mobile clinic.

Hannah, who works part-time at Specsavers Bellshill, applied for the opportunity through the optometry course at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The fourth year student was thrilled to be one of 10 optometrists selected to take part in the expedition.

The team treated around 200 patients a day and were shocked to see people sleeping outside the train overnight to guarantee an appointment.

Hannah said: ‘It was an amazing experience and one I will never forget, but it was very challenging. We saw children with terrible eye problems and saw conditions like cataracts and glaucoma at a much more advanced stage.

“One of the most difficult parts of the trips was leaving not being able to help more people. It didn’t feel like we were doing a lot to help but in reality, I know we’ve made a big difference.

“It was good to experience how health care and optometry is delivered in South Africa and to do something to help vulnerable people.”

Specsavers Bellshill store directors Douglas Waugh and Kirsteen Newman have both practised optometry in Africa, so were able to provide Hannah with hints and tips before the trip.

Douglas and Kirsteen also presented Hannah with optometry equipment for the trip and for her final year at university.

Kirsteen said: “We’re very proud of Hannah and all she has achieved. It must have been a challenging and emotional experience for her but it’s clear she did a fantastic job.”

Meanwhile, the Main Street store has received the Platinum Employer accolade to honour its people management standards.

The externally validated accreditation scheme focuses on five key areas: talent management, recruitment and induction, performance management and reward, learning and development, and employee communications and engagement.

Kirsteen said: “People are at the centre of everything we do and supporting every member of staff to reach their full career potential is a big part of our ethos.”