Childhood Blindness in India: Vignesh's story

November 2020

By age 10 Vignesh had come to believe that he would always be blind. Remarkably, an eye screening that he nearly didn’t attend, surgery that took place just in time, and the loving kindness of Orbis supporters like you have dramatically changed the direction of this boy’s life.

India Child Vision Report Update

Now, Vignesh is among the 1.6 million children in India whose opportunities and vision have been restored. Thanks to the loyalty and compassion of people like you, the work to help children like Vignesh continued even through the pandemic.

Orbis has just released our Child Vision Report for India. It reveals the wonderful progress made to children's eye health and futures. It also shows that, despite the impact so far, there is much more to do for children like Vignesh.

Nobody thought Vignesh's sight could be saved

He was born with cataracts in both eyes. His worried parents took their baby to the local hospital, but there was nobody there who could perform eye surgery on children.

His story is not unusual in a country where there is a widespread shortage of pediatric ophthalmologists - specialist eye doctors who deal with children.

Other people in their community had gone permanently blind from cataract, and so Vignesh’s mom and dad believed this would also be their son’s fate. Still, they loved their boy no matter what.

Vignesh and his parents

Children like Vignesh face many barriers. Poverty, a lack of healthcare resources, and lack of knowledge can all prevent them receiving the care and support they need.

Sadly, it means a very large number of children go permanently blind from avoidable causes.

The rates of childhood blindness in India are among the highest in the world. It’s one of the reasons Orbis began working in India 20 years ago. Since then, supporters like you have helped train eye doctors, educate communities, improve infrastructure, and make eye screening available to millions of people - including school children.

Because of his poor vision, Vignesh did not go to school for many years. He didn’t have the same chances to learn and play as other kids. But eventually, his parents found a school that was willing to take him.

It was still expected he would never learn to read or write.

Hope in Sight for Vignesh

Latha, far right, with students at a school eye screening

Vignesh's fortunes took a dramatic turn when Orbis conducted an eye screening at his school, and an outreach worker called Latha noticed a cheerful boy with a serious eye condition.

Latha was determined to help him. She spoke gently with his parents, explaining that their son did not have to go blind. He could be helped. She told them that kind people from another country would fund specialist surgery for Vignesh.

They could hardly believe it. And, amazingly, just a few weeks before COVID-19 forced a lockdown, Vignesh had surgery to restore his sight at a hospital supported by Orbis.

Child Vision Report: Your impact in India

This year, Orbis is celebrating 20 years of work in India, where support and kindness from people like you have helped change the lives of individuals, institutions and communities.

In doing so, you have given children like Vignesh a brighter future, and brought relief to his worried parents.

You have helped reduce the economic burden of blindness. And you have helped build up the country’s eye health resources and expertise.

For Vignesh, the future is now full of possibilities.

Despite the restrictions caused by COVID-19, Vignesh now has more freedom than he ever thought possible.

He can move around without needing someone to help him.

He can see the love in the faces of his mother and father.

His world, which had been closing in, has now opened up.

And it’s all thanks to Orbis in India - and you!

Donate today!

Will you help Orbis build on this life-changing work in India and change the future of more children like Vignesh?