Optical Express Leads Eye-Opening Mission to Improve Syrian Eye Care

By Optical Express, PRNE
Sunday, October 17, 2010

LONDON, October 18, 2010 - Four eye care volunteers journey to Syria to help those whose lives have
been blighted by poor eye sight.

Optical Express employees Amy McLaughlin, Jill Young, Jaymeet Patel and
Scott Mackie travelled from the UK to Western Asia to help treat patients as
part of Dr. Morhaf and the Red Crescent's (Syrian Red Cross) eye camp. This
mission highlights the Optical Express Group's commitment to improving eye
care (uk.opticalexpress.com/eyecare.html) in impoverished areas across
the globe and marks a continuation of the group's long-standing charity
partnerships, which includes: The Caring City, a charity which delivers
support to children in crisis, in a practical and direct way.

Armed with 2,500 pairs of glasses and 3,000 pairs of lenses, which had
been donated by Optical Express, the quartet were faced with a seemingly
insurmountable task. 30%(1) of the Syrian population currently live in
poverty, working long hours in tough industries such as agriculture - which
employs 26%(2) of the country's labour force. Eye care is simply not an
option for a population who struggle to support their families and look after
their children because of their declining eyesight.

"The cases were heartbreaking," said Jill Young, Senior Optometry
Development Manager: "I have never seen so many blind children with no
provision for primary eye care. People were begging us to be seen."

The Optical Express team travelled to the regions of Salamiyya, Hama and
Alghab treating patients ranging from children with Cerebral Palsy to adults
who would be diagnosed as blind in the UK. Over 40% of patients suffered from
diabetes and even more from conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and
retinal detachment.

Six days, three locations and 3,500 patients later, the four volunteers
emerged with a varying range of emotions and case studies of patients who
benefited from this support effort from Optical Express (
uk.opticalexpress.com/laser-eye-surgery.html) and Dr. Morhaf's camp.
The experience opened the teams' eyes to the vast challenges and lack of eye
care that exists within Syria and all four insist that there is an urgent
need for more trips like this.

"Everyone involved valued us being there," added Professional Services
Director Scott. "We got to be part of this life-changing experience, giving
us the opportunity to treat patients in Syria. This is just the start and I
can't wait to see how we might be able to help further in future"

For Optical Express this is certainly just the beginning. So far they
have donated over 500,000 pairs of their customers' old glasses to The Caring
City and will continue to support the cause. Special drop boxes are located
in Optical Express (
uk.opticalexpress.com/store-and-clinic-locator.html) clinics
nationwide, which have so far been popular for those who have benefited from
laser eye surgery (uk.opticalexpress.com/laser-eye-surgery.html) . So
pop into your local Optical Express today and donate your old frames, as the
difference good eyesight can make is immeasurable.

    Fact Check

    Syrian Population: 21M+(3)
    59% of Syrian Population under 65 and 36% under 15(3)
    Syrian Unemployment: 12.9%(1)
    Syrian Poverty Levels: 30% (11.2% live below the subsistence level(1)
    Syrian Agricultural labour force makes up 26%(2) of population and
    accounts for 25% GDP(4)


    (1) US Department of State
    (2) The Report: Syria 2009 (Oxford Business Group)
    (3) CIA Fact book
    (4) World Bank, World Development Indicators

Note to Editors

1. Optical Express is Europe's leading refractive surgery
provider with its surgeons having carried out more than 700,000 laser eye
surgery procedures and performing more than 6 out of every 10 refractive
procedures in the UK. The company employs over 3000 people, utilising over 50
ophthalmologists and 250 optometrists across more than 220 locations
throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, France, Germany, the
and the United States.


    For further information and images, please contact:

    Paul Isbell
    Yabber, Profero's Social Media and Digital PR Business Unit.
    Office: +44-(0)-20-7529-8575
    Mobile: +44-(0)-7904-965-543
    E-mail: Paul.Isbell@profero.com

    Rich Rust
    Social Media Manager, Optical Express
    Office: +44-(0)-1236-795-147
    E-mail: richardrust@opticalexpress.com

For further information and images, please contact: Paul Isbell, Yabber, Profero's Social Media and Digital PR Business Unit, Office: +44-(0)-20-7529-8575, Mobile: +44-(0)-7904-965-543,
E-mail: Paul.Isbell at profero.com; Rich Rust, Social Media Manager, Optical Express,
Office: +44-(0)-1236-795-147, E-mail: richardrust at opticalexpress.com

will not be displayed