Local optometry student heading to Senegal to provide eye care

By Hayley Ferguson
July 5, 2019 - 5:07pm Updated: July 5, 2019 - 7:05pm


Medicine Hat, AB - Austin Toresdahl has always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. 

It’s that desire that drew him to optometry.

“It’s enhancement more than sick care in some ways. You’re treating diseases and stuff, but you’re also, you are improving people and they can learn better and enjoy life better.” Toresdahl said. “If they are seniors they can stay independent longer. I enjoy that aspect that you are making people better.”

It’s making people better that has inspired the second year student to join eight other classmates next month to go to Senegal to provide locals with eye care.

“We can’t bring all of the technology that you would find in an optometry or ophthalmologist office, but we do the best we can.” He continued. “We bring all of our portable instruments and stuff. So essentially going through people as quickly as we can on seeing 1,000 patients through out the course of the trip, we have like seven days.”

Toresdahl’s mom, Linda, is extremely proud of her son for wanting to make a difference. She’s also hopeful he can use the lessons he learns on his trip for the rest of his life.

“How lucky we are here and just how much of a difference that they are going to make in those lucky individuals that they will be helping and hopefully this can continue and hopefully more of this happens.” She said.

Toresdahl says that along with providing basic eye care, they also will be looking to refer people who need surgery.

“The part that we’re fundraising for is the cataract surgery for those who need it.” He explained. “So we’ll be, the people with the worse cataracts, so that's like clouding of the lens, will be referred to a local surgeon for surgery. So we will be getting them organized with him as well.”

The students have already raised $5,000 of their $7,000 goal. The money raised will help with the cataract surgeries.

They hope to raise the rest through their go fund me page over the next few weeks.

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