The issue of extreme poverty in Hong Kong is escalating and people on low incomes and the homeless face barriers in accessing crucial medical and eye care services. The Fred Hollows Foundation Hong Kong and ImpactHK organized an eye screening event to address the eye health problems faced by the homeless and socially-disadvantaged in Hong Kong. At the event, people accessed free eye health information sessions, eye screening and were given prescription glasses. The event was sponsored by the Goodman Charitable Foundation and was facilitated by Dr Godfrey Lam, an ophthalmologist and eye consultant for The Fred Hollows Foundation Hong Kong. 

Dr Godfrey Lam, Ophthalmologist and Advisory Committee Member of The Fred Hollows Foundation Hong Kong (left), Ms Laura Lee, Chief Representative of The Fred Hollows Foundation Hong Kong & ASEAN, Mr Deep Ng, ImpactHK Registered Social Worker & Senior Project Manager (right)

15% of participants need to be referred to an ophthalmologist, and half of them have refractive error 

At the eye screening, half of the participants needed glasses due to myopia or presbyopia, and many of them underwent eye examinations for the first time in their lives. The examinations revealed that 15% had potential eye diseases and needed to be referred to public hospitals for further examination. 

"I was a bit surprised to find out about my eyesight deteriorating." 

Many participants who attended the event were getting their eyes examined for the first time and initially found it intriguing because they had never thought about the need for eye health check-ups. However, they were also worried about unknown eye diseases or underlying issues. 

Mr Lee, who is over 70 years old, said: "I think this event is excellent. It would be very good if all elderly people in Hong Kong had this eye examination service! I knew that my eyesight was deteriorating, but I never knew the actual condition. I got a pair of reading glasses from a street vendor, but now I can get a professional pair of prescription glasses, which makes me very happy." However, Mr Lee also suffers from diabetes and hypertension, so he needs to be referred to a public hospital for further examination.  

 "The text on my phone has been blurry for the past few months..." 

Ah Ho, a tow truck driver for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel for eight years, voluntarily resigned during the pandemic after two colleagues contracted the virus and passed away. Impact HK was worried about his physical and mental health, and organised accommodation. In recent months, he noticed his vision started getting blurry when looking at his phone but due to limited financial resources, he couldn't afford to go to see an ophthalmologist. Fortunately, during the eye screening event, it was discovered that he had presbyopia rather than a serious eye disease, which relieved him of a great burden. 

Eye diseases require urgent action 

The impact of eye diseases on patients worldwide requires urgent action. There are 43 million blind people globally, but nine out of ten cases of blindness can actually be prevented or treated. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from eye disease live in remote areas and cannot access high-quality and affordable eye care services, leading to blindness or vision impairment. Often, the most vulnerable groups in society are more prone to eye diseases and have difficulty accessing eye health services due to poverty and cultural reasons. The Fred Hollows Foundation operates in more than 25 countries worldwide, supporting sight-saving surgeries and treatments, training the next generation of professional eye surgeons or healthcare professionals, providing necessary medical equipment, and organizing eye disease awareness and prevention campaigns. 

The Chief Representative of The Fred Hollows Foundation Hong Kong & ASEAN Laura Lee said: “The collaboration between The Fred Hollows Foundation Hong Kong and ImpactHK aims to provide free eye care services to underserved individuals in society, including low-income families and the homeless as well as provide people with eye health knowledge and eyeglasses to prevent and correct refractive error (such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia). We are helping the homeless so they can live a healthy and positive life."  


This event was supported and sponsored by: