Volunteers help with school eye screening in India

A smiling man shakes the hands of children who crowd around him in a classroom.
Written by Caroline Wagner, published on February 8, 2024 Donate Today

There were smiles and high fives all around when volunteers from Sagility Health India joined eye health professionals to screen nearly 500 young students at the Mandal Paraja Parishath Primary School in Kondapur, Hyderabad for vision impairments in December.

“We learned that patience is very important to handle kids of this age group,” laughs Jyotsna, one of the volunteers from Sagility Health. Smiling, she adds, “the kids were amazing, and they were cooperative, and the event went really well.”

Children line up for an eye screening program at a school in India.
Students queue up for an eye screening at the Mandal Paraja Parishath Primary School.

The screening was part of our corporate relations programme, which invites companies to financially support eye health initiatives and provides their employees with the opportunity to participate in programme delivery.

In this case, volunteers from Sagility Health helped organize the excited children into queues, documented the students’ information, and held up the “Tumbling E” eye charts – standard tools used when screening young children for eye conditions. Members of the ophthalmic team from the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) were on hand to conduct a more thorough screening on any child identified as having potential vision problems.

In a single day, 16 children received prescriptions for eyeglasses and another three got referrals for further diagnosis at LVPEI. All the children took part in an eye health education session, which included instruction in eye exercises and diet.

In addition to helping with the screening, the Sagility Health volunteers also made donations to cover the cost of the prescription eyeglasses for the students who needed them.

Two women talk to two young girls in school uniforms. One of the women holds a clipboard.
Volunteers take down students’ names and information during the eye screening event.

Over the past decade, we’ve been developing a range of school eye health programmes, both in India and in our other countries of work. The idea is to train teachers and volunteers to conduct or assist with eye health screenings right in the classroom. This means we can screen more children, and helps us make sure that girls, often overlooked for eye health care, are getting the same access as their male counterparts. Finally, by reaching out to children, we can help them and their families become familiar with the eye health care available to them, empowering them to seek eye treatment in the future.

Our Head of Resource Mobilization Subhadip Bhattacharya, who organized and attended the event, says he looks forward to facilitating more volunteer projects like this one.

“The energy from the students was palpable,” he says. “They were so excited to participate in the eye screenings. Likewise, the volunteers from Sagility Health had a great time and learned a lot about eye health. This is the first time they participated in a student eye screening volunteer programme, and their enthusiasm was notable. It’s a win-win for us when we can provide eye health screenings to children while also offering an exciting employee experience to our corporate partners.”

A large group of volunteers and
Volunteers from Sagility Health pose with students and health workers from the L V Prasad Eye Institute after a successful school eye health screening.

Two of the volunteers say they were touched by all the students clamoring for their attention and addressing them as ‘teacher’. “We are feeling very happy,” they say, “We are recollecting our school days.”

To learn more about our corporate relations program, visit: operationeyesightindia.org/corporate-relations