At times, we all take the simplest things for granted, particularly eyeglasses, eye care, and eye exams. We can call the optometrist and make a screening appointment. In some countries, it’s not that easy. What we know is that a poor diet, mainly a lack of Vitamin A leads to poor vision. The number of children in developing countries that have vision impairment is astronomical. Sightsavers is working to bring school-age children in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Senegal vision screenings.
Sightsavers knows that a large amount of learning is visual. Not being able to see a blackboard or recognize people at a distance hampers educational growth. It’s reported that approximately 90 percent of vision issue cases in developing countries encompass what’s called uncorrected refractive error or URE. In layman terms, when looking at points near or far, the eye does not focus. Simple eye exams that include measuring the power of the eye will expose URE. This issue is easily fixed with the right eyeglasses.
This problem has many prongs. There is a need to educate parents and teachers to recognize a vision issue with a child. Knowing how to spot a vision issue is just the beginning. There is also a lack of trained professionals in these rural villages. Most of the optometrist flock to the large cities. Families that live in far-off rural areas have no way to get to cities. Working through schools enables programs to reach more children without the children having to travel to clinics.
In closing, eye screenings need to take place at regular intervals and education about eye care needs to be ongoing in developing countries. Programs like Sightsavers is working tirelessly to accomplish this. It’s heart-stopping to witness a child with a vision issue see correctly for the first time. It’s even more amazing to see that same child flourish in school because they finally have a decent pair of eyeglasses.