Following successful NHS cataract treatment at SpaMedica, 63-year-old Mark Greenwood is set to embark on a gruelling cycling challenge – in support of cataract sufferers in remote overseas locations, who struggle to access the same crucial surgery.
Mark, who lives in Aslacton, near Norwich, first noticed his own sight was ‘fuzzy’ while working at his marketing micro-agency he co-owns with wife Mandy.
“We provide design services, and your eyes have got to be very good, particularly for retouching and colour work. The cataract was starting to affect my work on the computer, slowing me down,” he explains.
Following an eye examination at the Norwich branch of Cecil Amey Opticians & Hearing Care, Mark was diagnosed with a cataract, and he was referred to his local SpaMedica hospital in Norwich for ‘efficient, fantastic’ NHS surgery. The ‘remarkable’ care he received has now inspired Mark to give back to others.
Mark will tackle a 200-mile charity cycling challenge for CBM, which works across the world’s poorest countries to prevent avoidable blindness and restore sight.
Mark says: “I’m thrilled that my sight has improved, and grateful that I can do things like this now.
“From my first appointment at SpaMedica, everything felt very efficient. I met with the specialist and discussed what was wrong, what I needed and exactly how they could rectify it – it was all very reassuring.
“And the whole process, from my initial referral to coming out of surgery, took around two months – that was one of the things that I was amazed by, it was so fantastic. Even the surgery was just 15 minutes!
“I don’t take it for granted. It’s spurred me on to raise money so that those in other countries – who don’t have the same access to high levels of care that I had – can receive treatment.”
Describing the cycling challenge, he adds: “We’ve come up with a 200-mile cycle ride called Sea to See. With two friends, we’ll start on the south coast near Portsmouth and ride up to the north coast of Norfolk in twenty-four hours.
“I’ve done a charity ride before, which was 140 miles, so 200 will be tough. But I’m pretty determined.”
Mark aims to raise £2000 to help CBM improve access to sight-saving eye health services in the world’s poorest communities. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and for many people in poorer parts of the world, treatment to restore their vision is out of reach.
In 2021, CBM delivered 111,000 cataract surgeries, working with partner hospitals in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The charity is even more special to Mark because his daughter, Sarah, works at their UK headquarters in Cambridge, focusing on digital fundraising.
He says: “My surgery has improved my life, and for others in these remote locations, it must be life-changing too. I was particularly struck by the story of a grandfather called Paul in Zimbabwe, who had to live with cataracts for years, becoming unable to work. The nearest eye hospital was seven hours away and his family couldn’t even afford the bus fare to get there, let alone the cost of treatment. CBM made it possible for him to have his sight restored.
“For me, it was so easy, it’s on the NHS and I don’t have to worry, so wouldn’t it be great if I could help a few other people who don’t have a clinic on the doorstep?”
Hospital manager at SpaMedica Norwich, Sharon Ross, adds: “We’re delighted to hear that Mark had such a great experience during his treatment – and even more so when we learned that it inspired to him to support communities abroad in accessing this life-changing surgery.
“We’re very proud of the work we do, ensuring every patient receives personalised care and attention, and supporting the NHS in helping to reduce surgery waiting times, with appointments available within just four weeks.
“Although cataracts can affect quality of life and independence, for most people it is a treatable condition and surgery is quick and straightforward.
“We would like to wish Mark good luck for his challenge, and we look forward to hearing more about his fundraising efforts for this worthy cause.”
Mark’s cycling challenge will take place on Saturday 29th April 2023. To donate to Mark’s Sea to See challenge, visit his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/seatosee
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