People living with blindness and visual impairment are often less likely to be able to engage in paid work, and therefore are more likely to live below the poverty line. Every year, poor vision costs the global economy $272 billion in lost productivity. Our model of Hospital-Based Community Eye Health empowers beneficiaries to take ownership of their health care needs and strengthens the capacity of our local partners by equipping them with the knowledge, equipment and supplies they need to be successful. Globally, at least 2.2 billion people suffer from vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that is preventable. We strive to reduce poverty in the countries we work in by providing quality eye health care to everyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay. When low income residents of developing countries have poor vision, they lose education and employment opportunities. If these vision problems go untreated, people are unable to support themselves and their families, and become stuck in the cycle of poverty. To address this, Operation Eyesight works to ensure that families have access to basic necessities, such as clean water and quality health care.
Additionally, Operation Eyesight hires and trains community health workers directly from the villages they serve. This provides alternative employment opportunities for community members who usually work within the home or in the agriculture sector and is especially beneficial for women.
|With healthy eyes, entire communities are thriving because of YOU!|
|Operation Eyesight’s Community Eye Health Program model sets us apart from other organizations fighting avoidable blindness – because we focus on more than just eye health.|
Vision and good eye health are key factors in an individual’s overall health and well-being. Preventing avoidable blindness and vision impairment is crucial to achieving health and well-being and in the overall effort to achieve the SDGs.
Vision has a significant impact on individual’s overall general health and well-being. Proper vision and healthy eyes help to ensure that children are able to participate in school, adults are able to find employment, and older individuals are able to remain connected to their families and communities. Poor vision and vision loss have also been proven to prevent social inclusion and to negatively impact mental health.
Our programs are designed to provide quality eye care to all, regardless of age, gender or ability to pay. Through our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program, local community health workers are trained to conduct door-to-door surveys, identify eye health issues, refer patients for treatment, and educate the community on eye health and general health. As a result, we’re able to provide eye care to those who would otherwise go unreached, and communities become healthier and stronger.
The community health workers trained by our partner hospitals go door-to-door in communities to screen community members for eye health problems and provide health education materials to ensure that no one gets left behind. Although we understand the value of good eye health at Operation Eyesight, we also understand that healthy eyes are only part of a person’s general well-being. Therefore, our community health workers also provide health education on issues related to nutrition, pre- and post-natal health and communicable diseases like tuberculosis.
|A day in the life of a program officer|
|For Vineela Cherukuri, her position as a Program Officer with Operation Eyesight in India is not just a career she had dreamed of, but also an opportunity to create lasting changes ...|
Vision impairment disproportionately affects women and girls. Preventing avoidable blindness and vision impairment has a crucial role to play in the reduction of gender inequalities and in the overall effort to achieve the SDGs. Recent estimates indicate that 56% of blind adults are women, and two thirds of blind children are girls. Traditional gender roles such as cleaning and caring for the young, sick and elderly often place women in areas where they are more likely to be exposed to vision-impairing bacteria. Family responsibilities such as care giving and collecting water also present challenging barriers that prevent women from having the time to receive the eye health care they need.
Vision loss in women can exacerbate existing gender inequalities like limited education and employment opportunities and can even result in community exclusion. This can increase women's dependency on their husbands or other relatives and limits their decision-making power.
The ripple effect stemming from proper eye health can also play a vital role in reducing gender inequalities. When women are empowered to make decisions regarding their own health, they have the ability to improve the overall health of their families and impact their entire communities.
Most of the community health workers trained by Operation Eyesight partner hospitals are women. When women are employed as community health workers, they have an opportunity to become trusted leaders in their communities and act as catalysts for positive health outcomes. This employment improves their ability to become active participants in their family’s socioeconomic stability.
Not only is empowering women and reducing gender inequalities the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Evidence shows that empowering women is one of the strongest catalysts for driving sustainable development across all sectors. It enhances economic growth, improves education and increases positive health outcomes.
At Operation Eyesight, we’re working to implement gender transformative strategies, meaning that we’ll look at how we’re working with communities to make sure that we’re reaching and treating even the most vulnerable people. By working directly with local communities, we can better understand the barriers women face, take affirmative action in training and human resource development to ensure there are more women in the health care system, and remove the barriers to access to services.
|Achieving Gender Equity in Eye Health|
|Vision impairment is a gender issue. Women and girls are more likely to suffer from vision impairment than men or boys. This is due to many factors, such...|
Access to clean water helps build resilient communities, reduces the burden on women and girls, and is critical to the health and well-being of entire communities. Drilling and maintaining boreholes helps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like trachoma, a bacterial disease that, when left untreated, leads to irreversible blindness. What do boreholes have to do with preventing avoidable blindness? More than you might think. We drill boreholes in communities where trachoma is endemic. Lack of fresh water and adequate hygiene is a significant contributor in the spread of trachoma. Due to gendered household duties like cleaning and caregiving, women are much more susceptible to contracting trachoma than their male counterparts.
Providing communities with fresh water is an important part of our work to prevent blindness. In Kenya and Zambia, we build wells, drill boreholes and educate communities on the importance of hygiene. With access to fresh water, people can wash their hands, faces and clothing, and prevent the spread of bacterial infections such as blinding trachoma. Improved sanitation aids in the reduction of other serious illnesses such as diarrheal disease, upper-respiratory infections and malaria.
Operation Eyesight has drilled and installed 126 new boreholes in Zambia in areas where clean water was urgently needed. After installation, we train residents in these communities to maintain the boreholes and ensure their longevity. Community health education sessions helped residents improve sanitation habits, reducing the occurrence of serious illness and trachoma over time. We’re also working on restoring dysfunctional boreholes. Towards the end of 2018, 19 boreholes were rehabilitated in Zambia’s Sinazongwe District, with plans for more to come.
To ensure the sustainability of our boreholes, we follow a careful process. Establishing each well program includes:
- Identifying a viable location
- Drilling the borehole
- Using sustainable sources, such as solar, to power the pump
- Analyzing the water quality
- Training and equipping local villagers as pump-minders
- Monitoring and evaluating the program
- Mobilizing the community and building the capacity of the village water committee
- Distributing antibiotics to fight trachoma
- Educating the community on eye health and general health
Having ready access to clean drinkable water provides families with enough water that they can spare some for washing hands and faces. This improved hygiene, in turn, helps prevent disease.
|Rehabilitated boreholes are revitalizing communities and creating new opportunities for women!|
|World Water Day is coming up on March 22, and we’re overflowing with reasons to celebrate! Together, we’re saving sight and lives by providing clean water and...
At Operation Eyesight, we believe that meaningful, strategic partnerships are vital in ensuring the sustainability of our programs. We are proud to partner with local hospitals and health staff to promote our inclusive Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Programs (HBCEHP). Strategic and inclusive partnerships at the community, national and international level play a critical role in achieving sustainable, meaningful development. Operation Eyesight’s work would not be possible without our in-country partners, our donors, and our institutional partnerships.
While our senior leadership teams are based in Hyderabad, India and Calgary, Canada, the majority of Operation Eyesight’s staff is located in our partner countries in India, Nepal, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Our leadership teams in Canada and India work to provide support for our international country teams, thus strengthening our North-South and South-South partnerships.
To ensure the sustainability of our HBCEHP model, we work with partner hospitals to build the capacity of local hospital staff and Community Health Workers. Our vision centres are designed to become financially self-sustaining within several months of opening, which contributes to the sustainability and economic stability of our programs and the areas they serve.
| Quality above all: Our partnership with
L V Prasad Eye Institute, India
|Earlier this month, we had the privilege of hosting Dr. Gullapalli N. Rao (center), Founder and Chairman of the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), and...|