Eye Care Everywhere: Back to School with Orbis

As many children return to school—virtually or in-person—we’re looking back at how Orbis supporters have helped transform eye care in classrooms around the world.

Seeing Success in Schools

For too many children around the world, lack of access to eye care affects not only their day-to-day learning, but also their ability to succeed in the future. Because many schools are ill-equipped to support students with impaired vision, children struggling with their sight are often asked to leave school, denying them an education and damaging their future prospects.

Because 75% of a child’s learning happens visually, children with impaired vision who are fortunate enough to stay in school are also at a significant disadvantage. They inevitably struggle and may never reach their full potential.

Orbis is working to create a world where this doesn’t happen—where no one suffers preventable blindness or vision impairment, especially children. That’s why Orbis is bringing eye care to a place that can make all the difference early in life: school!

Rabi’s Bright Future

Rabi can thrive in school again now he can see clearly

A young Nepali boy named Rabi had been struggling to see in school. His teacher noticed that he would often cry when asked to read or write, and she was worried. He eventually admitted that he could only see things up close.

Rabi needed a vision screening—and thanks to Orbis supporters, he got one. The screening was offered through the Refractive Error Among Children (REACH) program, which brings eye care directly to children in schools

Ensure healthy vision for all school children

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Rabi was diagnosed with high myopia, or near-sightedness, and soon received his first pair of glasses. As a result, Rabi no longer struggles to read the blackboard in school, making learning much easier and more enjoyable.

“Whenever the teachers ask to read and write, I can do it.” —Rabi

Had Rabi not received the care he needed, his condition could have prevented from getting an education and learning life skills—limiting his opportunities in the future. Rabi wants to be a teacher or a police officer when he’s older. With his vision corrected, his dreams are finally in reach.

“I am happy that Rabi has got his glasses. If he studies well, since we are poor people, he can be a big person in the future. [Orbis] helped me and my son and it feels good that my son can see.” —Binod, Rabi’s father.

Reaching for the Stars

Refractive errors can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated

In places like Rabi’s home country of Nepal, refractive errors like nearsightedness and farsightedness often go undetected in children. Without treatment, these conditions can lead to permanent vision loss.

Through REACH, Orbis works with local partners to screen and treat school children—improving their chances of a brighter future. To ensure long-lasting success, REACH provides children with individual attention and follow-up, referring them to specialists if necessary and keeping an electronic record of their care.

Orbis introduced REACH in India in 2016 and quickly expanded to other countries. In India alone, we've been able to partner with local schools to provide 4.25 million eye screenings, more than 129,000 optical treatments, 1,400 surgeries, and training for 55,000 teachers.

Vision Ambassadors Lead the Way

Meet vision ambassadors Priya and Priyanka

In Eastern Nepal, many students have benefitted from the REACH program in their schools. To pay it forward and help other children access the eye care they need to succeed, some students have volunteered as vision ambassadors, like Priya and Priyanka.

“If you get glasses at the right time you will have avoided blindness, so it’s necessary and also if all the kids get glasses at the right time it will be good for the nation.” —Priyanka

School Eye Care Clubs

A school eye care club in Ethiopia

Orbis also trains teachers to tackle the spread of trachoma in schools. Trachoma is a painful bacterial infection that can cause blindness.

Since teachers are regularly observing students in the classroom, they are often the first line of defense when it comes to spotting signs of infection. These teachers are then able to refer students to care.

Orbis has also established school eye care clubs where students learn how to take care of their eyes, about the importance of good hygiene, and what to do if they are having trouble with their eyesight. Eye care club members then share this helpful information with their friends and families.

Banchi (pictured in the middle) is a biology teacher and manages her school’s eye care club in Ethiopia. She has identified 11 cases of trachoma in her students and referred them to nearby health centers. Volunteers like Banchi can make all the difference when it comes to helping students see their bright futures!

“I enjoy it. I’m happy when I help someone!” —Banchi

Back to School

At Orbis, we’re committed to ensuring all students can succeed in school, and reach their full potential. Thanks to our supporters, we have been able to help children in classrooms around the world. We wish all students returning to school a happy and healthy year ahead!


Your gift helps make sure students all over the world can see their bright futures clearly

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