India is a country of big numbers. With the world’s second largest population, India retains the unfortunate distinction of having the largest number of people with visual impairment globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 63 million people in India are visually impaired, and of these approximately 8 million people are blind. Despite the recent economic boom, the divide between the rich and poor continues to increase, leaving a significant portion of the population without access to basic health care services—most of whom live either in rural India or in urban slums. To further compound the situation, of the approximately 12,000 ophthalmologists in India, most (80 percent) live and practice in urban areas.
ORBIS opened a permanent office in India in 2000. The India Childhood Blindness Initiative (ICBI), a flagship program of ORBIS in India, was launched in 2002 to help ensure that India’s children have access to quality eye care for generations to come. In the last 10 years, 30 pediatric ophthalmology centers have been established across 17 states—more than halfway to the goal of developing 50 pediatric ophthalmology centers across India.
This is a bold yet achievable goal and together these facilities have examined more than 5.9 million children, treated more than 1 million children and performed surgeries on over 84,000 children. As a result of ORBIS’s role in India’s pediatric eye care and advocacy efforts, the Indian government now includes childhood blindness among its health care priorities.
Arjun Kumbhar, 2, was treated for
glaucoma at the Lions NAB Eye
Hospital -- an ORBIS partner.
ORBIS's work in India focuses on:
- Childhood blindness
- Corneal disease and eye banking
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Advocacy work
As of 2011 ORBIS's childhood blindness projects in India made significant progress:
Our partners' services now reach 17 of India's 28 states and all six of the country's regional zones.
Between 2002 and 2011, we helped establish 30 pediatric centers, screened nearly 5.9 million children, offered ophthalmic treatments to over 1 million children and performed over 84,000 pediatric surgeries.
This little girl from New Delhi was
treated for strabismus on board the
ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital.
ORBIS "firsts" in India
ORBIS has achieved numerous “firsts” regarding eye care in