Optometrist Cameron Hudson and his team arrived at the South Pole on January 24th just six days after fellow Brit Richard Dunwoody reached the same target.
But unlike the Admunsen/Scott race of over a century ago each expedition had a happy ending.
Cameron Hudson said: “We were greeted at the Pole by an American News Crew who threw microphones and cameras in our faces as if we were film stars.”
At the Pole itself is an impressive new science base run by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). It is home to 244 scientists and labourers who work in and around the base.
Glaswegian David Moulsdale agreed to back Cameron’s proposal for the challenge. David opened two Optical Express shops in Glasgow in the late 80s and now runs a business of over 200 Optical Express outlets and is Europe’s largest provider of the combination of optical services which includeslaser eye correction, contact lenses, and spectacles.
In the longer term the enduring results of ophthalmic research carried out by Hudson’s ‘Optical Express South Pole Challenge’ may give greater recognition than the Dunwoody expedition. During their 60 day expedition Optical Express team carried out a pioneering research project into the effects of the 24-hour day light in Antarctica on the human body clock and vision, specifically related the hormone melatonin.
Throughout their Antarctic journey the team collected important data, which will determine whether their body clocks have been disrupted by the effects of the 24-hour daylight. They also wore specialist activity monitors to monitor their sleep-wake patterns.
Cameron said:”This research may help to provide new insight into diseases of the eye, which cause damage to the cells in the retina that are responsible for melatonin production, and the effects of these conditions on the human body.” Their initial findings will be published shortly.
Hudson, back in the country after his grueling trek pulling sleds by ski through days of white out and harsh terrain, said:
“The last 20 days was like doing a marathon every day but we made it. Having had a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep and calorie intake, it has become a little easier to reflect upon events over those 58 days. The challenges that we have faced during our journey to the South Pole have really pushed our determination and resourcefulness to their limits. The single most motivating factor en route for me at least, has been that hopefully our efforts will make a meaningful difference to many people with visual problems.”
The team for the ‘Optical Express South Pole Challenge’ comprised Cameron Hudson, 27, British optometrist and vision researcher and John Huston, 30, American outdoors pursuits expert/polar guide.
As well as travelling the 700 miles across Antarctica and arriving at the South Pole and carrying out its important research project the Optical Express South Pole Challenge had a third focus, that of helping people with visual disorders by supporting three excellent and deserving sight related charities.