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‘Just a ‘thank you’ would be enough’, says Belfast nurse

A nurse from Belfast has been given free laser eye surgery.

A nurse from Belfast who had her glasses broken by a patient has been given free laser eye surgery, in a campaign to thank frontline workers.

Michelle, 26, is a nurse on a mental health ward at Belfast City Hospital, where she treats patients struggling with poor mental health. Her patients can sometimes become aggressive, and on one occasion, she had her glasses broken by a patient she was caring for. Michelle had been wearing her glasses since she was 10, but found they were impractical for her work and her experience with contact lenses was worse. After a 13-hour shift with contacts in, her eyes quickly became itchy and sore.

Michelle was given free laser eye surgery by leading eye care experts Optical Express, to thank her for her service to her patients and to the NHS. Freedom from her glasses and contact lenses means that Michelle can look after her patients more easily, while also ensuring that she is safer when doing so.

Michelle said “It’s always lovely when you receive thanks from the patients and their families, but outside of that I think some people just don’t realise how hard it is to work in mental health. Just a thank you would be enough – often we don’t even get that.”

Michelle started working at Belfast City Hospital at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March 2020. She says it was particularly difficult on the mental health ward during the pandemic, as patients who could not see family or friends became increasingly isolated, lonely and sometimes depressed, meaning that Michelle needed to provide extra support.

Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign is giving away £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery to NHS and Emergency Service workers to thank them for their continuous efforts to protect the public, especially during the pandemic.

Michelle said: “I’m very grateful to have had the surgery, as it has not only made work easier but just being able to go about everyday life without worrying about glasses or contacts is amazing. I was on holiday recently and being able to see everything so clearly made such a difference.

“A friend recommended I sign up for the campaign and I’m so glad that I did. I think it’s really important we look after people in frontline roles and try to make their job easier.”

David Moulsdale, Chairman and CEO of Optical Express, said: “Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign allows us to improve the lives of so many hardworking people. We first launched the campaign because we are passionate about giving something back to those who protect the public and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made during the pandemic.

“People are rightly proud of our NHS and Emergency Service workers in this country, and they have worked tirelessly over the last three years to keep us safe. We are delighted that we can contribute to giving them the thanks that they deserve.”

It is the second time that Optical Express has chosen to thank NHS and Emergency Service workers in this way. In 2017 they launched their first ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign which saw them give away over £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery. Over the course of the two campaigns more than £2 million worth of surgery will improve the lives of NHS and Emergency Service workers. Since Optical Express was founded 32 years ago, the team are proud to have supported hundreds of humanitarian and philanthropic projects, donating over £33 million and counting to worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad.