Mobile Eye Unit for the South Island

Mobile Eye Unit for the South Island - A D9999 District Project

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Nick and Liz Courtney are introducing Rotary clubs to a new and exciting project in which Rotary in the South Island is partnering with Blind Low Vision New Zealand (formerly The Foundation for the Blind). It’s to fundraise for a Mobile Eye Testing Unit for the South Island. District 9999 Board fully support this as a signature project for the new district and is asking clubs to support this project across the South Island.

The idea to have such a unit is the dream of retired optometrist John Veale, a member of the Christchurch Rotary Club, who pitched the concept to Nick during his year as District Governor. Now the dream is on the way to becoming a reality.

Background to the project; Blind Low Vision NZ is well aware that poor eye health and associated eye conditions are on the increase and that for a number of reasons many people are reluctant to get their eyes examined. One of Rotary’s Areas of is “Disease Prevention and Health” and Rotary has fundraised in the past for many projects around health-related issues. There is a real synergy between Rotary and Blind Low Vision NZ to come together for this project.

We need to raise $400K to get this on the road. If every club could consider giving approximately $1500 or more if your club is in a position to do so, we would have a quarter of the money and can apply to outside organisations for further Grants. We know some larger clubs could donate more than others and every donation, no matter how large or small, will really make a difference.

The Need Specialists and professionals have linked deteriorating eye health to a number of factors:

 • an aging population

• time spent on devices leading to eye strain

• other health conditions that effect eye health - e.g. diabetes, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, cataracts, Macula Degeneration etc

This free service will be available for people of all ages. BLV will work with WINZ and local Optometrists to make further discounts available for glasses and other ongoing services.

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Approximately 150,000 New Zealanders have low vision.

Many issues can be significantly reduced if a person seeks professional help early, but Blind Low Vision NZ is aware that there is a gap in the market especially for those in rural areas and in lower socio-economic communities. Many people find it difficult to travel to get their eyes examined, they feel it is going to be cost prohibitive or simply are unaware that other health conditions can have an impact on their sight.  

The Mobile Eye Unit project has been launched with the hope of reducing the barriers and getting to the heart of communities and people who need help. It will be of great benefit to those in smaller or rural communities who cannot easily access optometry services. Ethnic groups and Maori and Pacifica peoples are also generally reluctant to reach out for help and this is of concern to those working at Blind Low Vision NZ.

How will the service be delivered?

The plan is to have a customized motorhome with a fully equipped optometrist’s consulting room on board. A motorhome can travel easily around the South Island in all conditions and is easy to manoeuvre and park so that it can be in locations where its services are needed.  

Blind Low Vision NZ is in discussions with a Christchurch-based firm, Jayco, which has had extensive experience with customizing motorhomes for other charities and business needs.

The vehicle can be purchased at cost price and then fitted out with state-of-the art equipment as specified by optometry specialists.

An optometrist will be employed by Blind Low Vision NZ to work on board the mobile eye unit ensuring that the best of service and care are provided. The optometrist will conduct the initial eye examination and where applicable, refer the patient to a local optometrist who will continue the care plan.

If you know of any organisations, businesses, interested people and Rotarians who would like to donate to this project:

Contact: Liz Courtney  Email:      Mobile: 021407870

                Nick Courtney Email:        Mobile: 021370256      

DONATE to: Rotary Oceania ( ROZops) Charitable Projects account:


Include name, Reference: BLV

All donations are Tax Deductible                                                   Thank you !..

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