Craig Cameron Saving Sight in Peru

Craig Cameron Volunteering at Peru.jpg

Trip a success - Local optometrist back from sight saving mission to Peru

09 Jun, 2010 10:51 AM
ULLADULLA optometrist Craig Cameron is continuing his efforts to bring sight to people around the world - no matter where they live.

Mr Cameron recently travelled to Peru with a specialist team of doctors and nurses, most of them from the Nowra region, in a bid to change the lives of disadvantaged people living in the Colca Valley.

The trip is being heralded a success with members of the team consulting with more than 350 people over the space of a few days.

Mr Cameron, from Cameron's Optometry, has previously travelled to East Timor but said the trip to Peru was unlike anything he had ever experienced before.

He told the Times last week that he had returned home feeling "good" but said the enormity of the problem had really hit home.

He said the work performed in Peru was just a "drop in the ocean" in terms of what was needed to alleviate treatable eye problems such as cataracts.

Mr Cameron learnt about the trip through a friend, Nowra orthopaedic surgeon and president of the Australian Alpaca Association, Dr Ian Davison, and had been keen to get involved from the start.

The team set up base in a town of approximately 5000 people, Chivay, and immediately went to work cleaning a space in the local hospital to assess patients and operate on them.

The team arrived on a Tuesday morning and started seeing patients the same day, continuing their efforts on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before taking the Monday morning off.

It was back to work on Monday afternoon before another well-earned break on Tuesday.

The team saw more patients on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning before packing up in readiness for their departure.

Mr Cameron said the team conducted more than 50 cataract operations as well as some other minor eye operations.

He said people from the region were prone to cataracts because of the high level of ultra-violet light at high altitudes (3600 metres above sea level).

Many of them had virtually no sight.

One woman was able to see her grand children for the first time in seven years after having cataract surgery.

Mr Cameron said it had been deemed unnecessary to operate on some people and they had been presented with glasses instead.

Even this, he said, was enough to enable some people to continue working.

Mr Cameron said he had enjoyed his time in Peru immensely but described the altitude as "challenging".

He believes the team was very successful in establishing a level of trust with the locals and is confident the long-term outcomes arising out of the mission will be very good.

He described the Peruvian landscape as "unbelievable" and said one of the highlights of the trip was a trip to the Cola Canyon to watch condors - sacred to the Peruvian people - riding thermals.

He said the sight of the birds was "phenomenal" and "absolutely magic".

The Insight Peru mission was an initiative of the Australian Alpaca Association in partnership with Quechua Benefit and with the support of Ramsay Health Care.

The group was praised by the Ambassador of Peru, His Excellency Caudio de la Puente.

"Your contribution, enthusiasm and generosity in providing your precious time and resources to help restore the gift of sight to the needy people of the Peruvian Altiplano constitutes a most meaningful and effective initiative and a gift that will not be forgotten," he said.

Mr Cameron is now preparing for another trip to East Timor in August.


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