Many of our donors are familiar with the idea of eye camps; temporary clinics set up to provide eye care to people in rural or remote areas. After all, they’ve been a big part of our efforts for many years, because distance is a huge barrier for many people who need eye care.
But temporary services don’t adequately fill the need and don’t provide long-term services. That’s why Operation Eyesight has embraced a policy of Vision Centre-Based Community Eye Health in India.
Vision centres are permanent facilities, staffed by trained eye care personnel. By locating these centres at strategic population areas, we can provide services like eye exams, diagnosis and referral of eye problems, and the fitting of prescription eyeglasses. An amazing 85 percent of our centres become financially self-sustaining within six months through the sale of custom eyeglasses, which funds the provision of eyeglasses to those unable to afford them.
To date, we have established 68 vision centres across India. The newest centre was established in partnership with Little Flower Hospital at Kanhangad in Kerala state. Through the vision centre, we will also train primary health care workers for the district.
The vision centre in Kanhagand is unique in several ways: we established it on the request of the government of Kerala and in partnership with not just an NGO hospital but also with the district health department of the government. It serves as a model for our work in collaboration with government.
We also recently opened vision centres at Fulenagar in Maharashtra state and at Unnao and Mituali in Uttar Pradesh state, one of the most impoverished states in the country. These newest vision centres are expected to provide services to target populations of about 200,000 people.
The vision centre at Mituali, in particular, is a ray of hope for the people it is meant to serve. Very soon it will become a symbol of aspiration for the poor people of the area and become an instrument of change, not just in eye health but in the overall development of the area and its people.
We hope our donors know just how much of a difference they’re making with these vision centres! Without you, it would not be possible. Thank you!