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Victoria Smith

Photo of Victoria doing an eye check

Victoria Smith’s energy and enthusiasm for promoting eye health goes way beyond the call of duty as an optometrist and owner of the opticians at Millhouses in Sheffield. Her involvement with SRSB started soon after she began advising her patients with sight loss to use our services. She decided to help with fundraising and now supports a wide range of our activities in the community as well.

“The shop owners here on Terminus Road decided to hold a Christmas Market and I contacted SRSB to see if they wanted to become involved in raising awareness about looking after your eyes. We must have done it for about seven years now.

“I’ve just written to all my suppliers, and anyone else I can think of in the area, to get prizes donated for the raffle for this year’s event on December 7th. As well as the raffle, we sell reindeer dust throughout December, and all year round I have an Ellie the Elephant collecting box,” said Victoria.

Getting to know the SRSB team at the street market events led to Victoria joining our Community Engagement Team offering free eye tests to homeless people at the Archer Project based at Sheffield Cathedral.

“Liz Bowman and I go every two months. I take the domiciliary kit that I use to do eye tests in people’s homes and we set up in the medical room. Dunelm Optical supply the frames and Zeiss do the lenses. We give glasses to about 8 people every time we go and they are really very appreciative.

“But we also, through the eye tests, pick up things like diabetes and raised pressures in the eye which in time could lead to sight loss if they are not treated.“

Victoria gives up her own time to do this, despite being very busy with her three children and running a successful business. You might also have heard her voice on Radio Sheffield. She’s now a regular on Paulette’s programme although she admits being very nervous at first about chatting live on the radio.

And all her work is as a volunteer. “I don’t claim from the NHS for the eye tests at the Archer Project, I just do it because I want to help and I am interested. Often people don’t think about how important their sight is to them” she said.

Victoria and Liz’s latest collaborations include running a sight awareness session at the Virgin Money lounge and an event at the Nat West Bank to mark World Sight Day. They ran an eye clinic and generally made people aware of the need to have regular checks.

“Some people we chatted to had never had their eyes tested before. Some needed glasses for the first time. It’s important to have eyes tested at any age, I’ll test little children from the age of about two. Older people, even if they don’t need glasses, should have their eyes checked to detect changes at the back of the eye.

“There is no pressure to have glasses we just recommended people have a test to make sure their eyes are healthy.”

Soon after getting involved with SRSB, Victoria went along to Mappin Street to see the facilities. “I think it’s an amazing place. I was especially impressed with Rob and all the gadgets available in the shop. They make life so much easier for everyone with sight loss.

“We know how much help our patients get when we refer them to you and I wanted to do something to help support that work. It’s so rewarding and enjoyable.”

As well as fundraising at her Christmas market in Millhouses, the next challenge Victoria is planning is taking part in our Fire Walk at Hillsborough Park. She’ll be walking across 20 feet of burning wood embers at a toasty 1236 degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely more than the professional call of duty for an optometrist but Victoria reckons it will be fun!

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