AccuVision interview with Tess Burrows, explorer, mountaineer and climber

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Back in 2009, the gripping BBC Two programme ‘On Thin Ice’ showed five teams facing extreme conditions in their pursuit of the inaugural Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race – the first race to the South Pole in 100 years. The five-part documentary detailed all five teams’ experiences both before and after this grueling race.
Tess Burrows is a highly experienced and accomplished climber in extreme conditions, from mountain tops in South Africa to Arctic expeditions. She uses her climbing and incredible lists of accomplishments to highlight causes close to her heart.
In the past, Tess had found wearing glasses and contact lenses during her expeditions not just inconvenient but life threatening. Freezing breath on glasses or contact lenses with grit behind them had left Tess in precarious situations too many times and had serious implications for the health of her eyes and her long term vision.
For the Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race, Tess knew to expect extreme weather and extremes in temperature. Temperatures as low as -58F (50C) made it apparent that this time, like so many other times, wearing contact lenses or glasses wasn’t a realistic option.
‘I’ve never been able to get on with glasses, and seeing in the Arctic was tough enough with goggles misting up most of the time with the puff and pant of pulling a heavy pulk behind. And anyway working with the stoves in the tent melting snow for water and cooking just created a steamed up mess. With no vision there is a danger of burning the tent down…’
So, before the start of the race, Tess started investigating Laser Eye Surgery. Her research led her to, and her decision to entrust her Laser Eye Surgery to the AccuVision team at the Fulham Clinic.
‘With the South Pole looming and so many wild places left to explore…it was time. I decided to go for freedom from lenses and glasses. I had laser enhancement…’
Following an intensive, detailed assessment of her eyes, her treatment was completed three months before the race was due to start, and Tess was quickly back to her grueling training schedule in preparation for the epic South Pole Race.
On the 15th December all the teams headed to South Africa for a two day stop over before travelling on to the continent of Antarctica. Tess confidently entered the period of acclimatisation and training,
knowing that her vision wouldn’t let her down, before the race proper got under way on 4th January 2009. As she says:
‘Temperatures down to -50˚C….no problem. Gale force blizzards…no problem. Intense 24 hour sun blare… no problem. Stressful tent life… no problem. Best of all, I can now see brilliantly!’
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