CooperVision, NGOs partner for free eye tests

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 10, 2018

Participants and organisers of the vision programme launched at the Government Primary School in Gopanpally Thanda, Telangana

Aim to screen 22,000 wards across India

Contact lens manufacturer CooperVision, global fund-raising initiative Optometry Giving Sight, and not-for-profit trust India Vision Institute (IVI) on Monday announced a joint initiative to screen over 22,000 children across India, including Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, and provide free spectacles to the needy children.

The programme, launched at the Government Primary School in Gopanpally Thanda in Telangana’s Rangareddy district, will see 2,000 screenings in Hyderabad. So far, 351 children from poor and underprivileged backgrounds have been screened.

These children are drawn from NGOs Mahima Ministries Homes, SOS Children’s Village and Gopanpally Thanda Government primaryschool.

Twenty-six free spectacles were distributed to those found with refractive errors at an event on Sunday.

Michael Wilkinson, General Manager, CooperVision, said the company’s global One Bright Vision child health programme can play a significant role in the country.

In partnership with IVI and Optometry Giving Sight, the programme’s objective is to correct people’s vision.

As part of the first wave of the initiative in 2016, over 34,000 underprivileged children were screened and over 2,900 free spectacles were provided.

The event was organised on the eve of the three-day World Congress of Optometry which began here on Monday.

It assumes significance as the Congress will see professionals discuss and deliberate on policy and practical issues in blindness prevention, including shortfall in optometrists and their training, said Vinod Daniel, CEO of IVI.

“IVI has organised screening programmes across several States and cities. Previous launches with CooperVision have been undertaken in Chennai, in March 2016, and in Delhi in April 2017.

“Yet another screening will be organised in Mumbai in October with other cities following subsequently,” Daniel told BusinessLine.

Bridging the gap

India faces a huge challenge of bridging the deficit of optometrists, while also confronting the problem of avoidable visual impairment in its young, especially school-going population in rural areas.

Against the required 125,000 optometrists for the country’s population, there are only 45,000.

This means, a severe handicap on early screening of children and therefore, the country falls short in primary eye care, Daniel said.

The IVI, a joint initiative of Hyderabad-based LV Prasad Eye Institute and Australian Brian Holden Vision Institute, has been undertaking free screening across the country in 10-12 States. It has provided 120,000 spectacles so far.

According to leading players among hospitals, lens-makers and NGOs, at least 5-7 per cent of the children screened in rural areas require glasses. With blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiency also being a major problem in India, early and regular screening will go a long way in better management of the problem, say experts.

Published on September 11, 2017

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