Since 1982 Adrian and Rita Thurston have run a successful optometry practice in Brisbane, Australia. During the years they have been involved in running free eye clinics and other aid in Estonia, Ukraine, Thailand and other countries.
Those who have visited Vanuatu on a holiday and only visited the resorts and the town of Port Vila, could gain the impression that Vanuatu is quite a prosperous nation. In fact it is one of the poorest countries in the world with 86 percent of the population living in a rural, subsistence farming environment. Most live in huts made of traditional materials with palm thatched roofs or huts made of a few pieces of corrugated iron, without access to clean drinking water or electricity or proper sanitation.
In 2009 the Thurstons went to Vanuatu and immediately saw the need for eye care and general health care in this island nation. They started to run free eye clinics in the capital Port Vila and at other locations around the island of Efate.
In 2017 Adrian and Rita established South Pacific Eye Clinics (SPECs) as a vehicle to expand their work in Vanuatu. Initially based on the Island of Efate and working in the many villages on the island, Adrian and Rita’s goal is to buy a catamaran and expand their work, spending the majority of each year taking their eye clinics, along with other health professionals to the 270,00 people across all the sixty five major inhabited islands of the archipelago.
Adrian and Rita gratefully acknowledge the friendship and assistance of the Layton Vision Foundation, for their support in Vanuatu. Vanuatu has a high prevalence of diabetes which can have devastating effects on vision. The Thurstons and South Pacific Eye Clinics are embarking on a diabetic retina screening programme with the clinical support of Chris Layton and the assistance of the Layton Vision Foundation.