A Q&A with Mr Adhikari: an optometrist changing lives in nepal

Mr Adhikari is the optometrist who screened Rabi’s vision and made sure he received the pair of glasses that transformed his world. Brenda Naluyima, Orbis UK's Senior Communications Officer, recently sat down with Mr Adhikari to ask him some questions and get an insight into his life-changing work.

Q: What was Rabi’s vision like when you first met him?

A: He had quite bad vision. He was struggling at school for many months – he would cry when his teacher asked him to read or write. He couldn’t recognise his own mother’s face from a distance.

He was only able to count my fingers at a distance of one metre away. Further than that, and he couldn’t see them well enough.

Q: What is the state of eye care in Nepal?

A: I’m afraid to say it is quite bad. We simply do not have the money or the infrastructure to reach people, especially in some of the poorer and more rural areas. I’m afraid to say that there are thousands of children like Rabi who may never receive the glasses they need. Their vision could so easily be corrected – this isn’t surgery, it’s just screening and glasses. And yet they may go their whole lives without getting help.

How was Rabi’s vision problem diagnosed?

A: An Orbis funded eye screening took place at Rabi’s school and identified right away that he was having difficulty. So they referred him to me at Biratnagar Eye Hospital for more detailed diagnosis. Rabi has a condition called high myopia, which basically means severe short sight.

Q: What might this mean for a child like Rabi?

A: Rabi is only seven. If he grew up without being screened and without his glasses, he would be unable to perform well in school.

Even just walking to and from school is difficult when you can’t see clearly. Such children often become irritable, as well as withdrawn and lonely. Later in life they may never find employment, due to bad school performance. So, as you can imagine, the long-term effects can be serious.

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Q: How is Rabi doing now that he has his glasses?

A: His vision is now within the range we consider ‘normal.’ This means he can live a normal childhood and fulfil his true potential.

He really enjoys school, playing with his friends and so on. He has really come out of his shell. It’s a huge change – his family and his teacher have really noticed it.

Q: What difference can someone make by giving to Orbis?

A: They can make possible more school screenings like the one that brought Rabi the help he needed. School is the perfect place to reach large numbers of children, and so with the proper numbers of staff and the necessary equipment, more of these screening camps can take place. I know Orbis has a goal of screening 300,000 children in Nepal. This would be truly incredible to significantly reduce the number of children struggling with visual impairment.

Help continue MR ADHIKARI's sight-saving work