India faces shortage of eye specialists

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 12, 2018

Children from rural areas receive modern eye care check up in Dharwad district (file photo)

In September, World Congress of Optometry to address the problem in Hyderabad

India faces a huge challenge of bridging the deficit of optometrists, while also it 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, says Vinod Daniel, Chief Executive of the India Vision Institute (IVI).

The emphasis needs to be on screening the rural and the underprivileged. Post testing, there is a responsibility of providing affordable lenses, Daniel said.

The 2nd World Congress of Optometry to be held in Hyderabad from September 11-13 will have the theme ‘Accessible, quality vision and eye health’, he added.

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

Affordable spectacles

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.

The need is more in the present times as 75 per cent of learning is visual and any deficiency puts the kid at a disadvantage.

Currently, low-cost pair of spectacles priced at ₹200- 300 are available. Among the leading players involved in making affordable spectacles more accessible the effort are the Sankara Netralaya, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Orbis, Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, BW Lions Superspeciality Eye Hospital and Rotary Eye Hospital to name a few.

The Indian eye care industry is $2-3 billion in size, but the potential for growth is huge. The upcoming global meet will see optometrists, vision scientists, researchers, educators and visual health professionals come together to discuss the problems and plausiblesolutions.

Published on May 25, 2017

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