Orbis in Nepal - an urgent need to screen children's sight

April 2019

We are a month into our See My Future appeal and with the UK government doubling all public donations before 23rd June, your generosity is helping us change lives. All the money matched will go towards expanding our project in Nepal, which screens and treats children with sight loss, enabling them to attend school and face a brighter future.

For too many children in Nepal, the lack of a simple pair of glasses can define their entire life.

Those who grow up with severe short-sightedness, longsightedness or astigmatism – the most common global causes of vision problems – invariably struggle at school and may never reach their full potential. As adults they will be less likely to find employment, which then also places a huge burden on their families and communities. And with many of these conditions, if the issues are not corrected they can lead to permanent blindness.

As well as devastating individual lives, these conditions also have an economic impact. Studies have found that, in low and middle income countries, every £1 invested in eye health can generate £4 to the economy. This is the story behind our See My Future appeal: with your help, we can change the lives of thousands of children, helping to build a brighter future.

Children at a REACH screening in Nepal

THE REACH PROGRAMME – BUILDING ON SUCCESS

All the money matched by the UK government through the See My Future appeal will go towards our REACH programme in Eastern Nepal.

Orbis first deployed REACH (Refractive Error Among Children) – a comprehensive system for screening and correcting children’s vision – in 2016 in India. It has already been tremendously successful there, providing 4.25 million eye screenings, more than 129,000 optical treatments and 1,400 surgeries as well as training over 55,000 teachers and community workers.

The paperless REACH programme is unique as it provides children with individual attention and follow-up, referring them to specialists if necessary and electronically logging their progress. The programme aims to address the challenges of schoolchildren who are unable to access eye care.

Compliance rates – the level at which patients are following their treatment pathway – have been very high with REACH. This is partly due to the surprise spot checks our partners run within schools to ensure children are wearing their glasses, as well as providing information to teachers so that they can appreciate just how important eye health is. In addition, children are given the opportunity to choose their own glasses – which means they are more excited to wear them.

How the REACH model works

The REACH programme is comprised of five key steps:

  • Vision screenings in schools
  • Detailed eye exams for individuals who need them
  • Glasses prescribed where necessary
  • Referral to specialists if further treatment is required
  • Follow-up checks and visits to make sure children are wearing their glasses

OUR WORK IN NEPAL HAS ONE MAIN GOAL

In particular, we want to reduce visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error because it is a significant barrier to education for schoolchildren in Nepal.

We're aiming to achieve this by:

  • Increasing access to child eye health services
  • Improving the quality of eye care received
  • Ensuring services are managed effectively, so they are delivered sustainably and constantly improve

By supporting our See My Future appeal, you can make a huge impact. Thousands of children could have more opportunities to work, to earn and to innovate, rather than living in a blur.

All public donations to our See My Future appeal given before 23rd June will be doubled by the UK government. With that money we will be able to expand the REACH programme that launched in Nepal in June 2018 – so with your help, REACH will reach twice as many children and help twice as many families.

School-based eye health programmes are a golden opportunity to make a lifelong difference to children with vision problems. Instead of growing up unable to see, they can look ahead to a future of independence and opportunity.

Dr Rahul Ali

Country Director, Orbis India

Stories from Nepal

Save a child’s sight. Change a child’s future.

5

20

50