Three school children wearing glasses after school screenings in Nepal

The legacy of Orbis’s REACH programme in Nepal

Did you know the largest cause of visual impairment amongst children globally is refractive error? A common condition which can lead to blurry vision and can be easily corrected with a pair of glasses. But if a child can’t access the eye care they need, it can significantly impact their education, their confidence and ultimately their future.

Since 2019, working in partnership with Nepal’s National Society of Comprehensive Eye Care, we have been able to deliver vision screenings, treat and change the futures of thousands of children living with refractive error in Nepal for the better. Children like Aadya.

Aadya's Story

Girl called Aadya wearing glasses and looking in the mirror

Aadya admiring her new glasses in the mirror

“What can you see with your new glasses?"

“Everything!” says Aadya, 7, with a big smile on her face

Aadya loves nothing more than to play and watch TV with her siblings. But for the past year this had become more difficult as her vision blurred and she struggled to see. Her father Ajay noticed something was wrong: “She would sit very close to the TV, and at school she would make frequent mistakes while studying.

“My wife and I were worried about Aadya’s education and her future. You need healthy vision to do anything."

Aadya was able to access vision screening at her school through REACH where she was diagnosed as short-sighted. She was prescribed a free pair of glasses which she could pick up herself. She hasn’t taken them off since. “I could see the transformation in my daughter immediately. Now she can see clearly and writes better with fewer corrections. The impact this is making on her education is very clear.”

“Eyes are life. If you have healthy eyes, you can see everything in this world.”

A child called Aadya wearing her new glasses

Aadya in her new glasses thanks to Orbis's REACH programme in Nepal

The impact of REACH

Thanks to your donations, which were match funded by the UK government, we could completed a 36-month programme in Nepal’s Siraha and Parsa districts called REACH (Refractive Error Among Children).

Aadya is one of 330,000 children within these districts to receive vision screenings through REACH. Initially screenings just took place in schools, but when the pandemic shut schools for a total of 14 months, we adapted how we reached children. By travelling home-to-home providing screenings on doorsteps we not only continued our sight-saving work, but we screened more children who do not go to school due to disabilities or living too far away.

In total 6,476 children were diagnosed with refractive error and prescribed glasses. We were also able to identify 3,438 children living with other eye conditions such as cataract and squint, referring them to hospital for further treatment.

REACH’s legacy

While REACH has come to an end in Nepal the work will not stop. We are delighted that since the programme finished last year Nepal’s government has agreed to integrate eye health into school programmes across the country. This means crucial screenings will continue to be available to all children in Nepal. We have also equipped five primary eye centres to provide services to the whole community going forward. A legacy we could not have reached without your support

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