There’s joy and wonder everywhere when you see through the eye’s of a child. But what if those eyes cant see ?
Paediatric blindness can arise out of congenital defects. But mostly it starts with uncorrected refractive errors. And that is a vicious cycle. Poor eyesight leads to poor performance in studies. Slowly the child gets sidelined and development affected. More often than not, this pressure leads to children dropping out of school.
Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital has been in the forefront of screening school going children for Uncorrected Refractive Errors since 2002. Today, around 100,000 children are screened every year across geographies.
The focus of the programme is on reaching children who, otherwise, do not have access to preventive screening. Free vision correction glasses are provided and wherever necessary , sight restoring surgeries are performed.
These are the basic service delivery points at a vision centre. The objective is to provide primary eye care to the rural/under-privileged sections thereby increasing access, equity and coverage and reducing expenses towards inculcating positive health seeking behaviour.
Vision Centre programme is central to the Community Outreach Model of the Hospital. The journey started in 2008 with support under the India Consortium Grant of Seeing is Believing and has continuously expanded over the years. This expansion has been possible due to the support of many partners.
At the end of March 2020, the programme had 36 active vision centres working across urban slums in the city of Delhi and remote rural communities in the districts of Saharanpur, Meerut, Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh and Alwar in Rajasthan.
Currently, the programme is working on to expanding to 20 more locations by 2022.
A new component of door to door screening has now been incorporated into the vision centre model. Village level workers attached to vision centres are now doing door to door survey using a modern app that helps to
(1) set a baseline for requirement of eye care services
(2) create awareness
(3) monitor uptake of services.
Each vision centre is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for a primary eye care examination and is staffed by a vision technician (usually an Allied Ophthalmic Paramedic graduate of SCEH) and an attendant. Each vision centre is also equipped with a software for managing data and in some locations even tele-medicine .
In 2019-20, the network saw 105000 patients and facilitated 8000 sight restoring surgeries.