A young girl and Vision Ambassador for Orbis REACH project stands outside in front of a tree in Chennai, India.

Earth Day 2022

Happy Earth Day! In honor of this special day, learn how we're doing our part to protect both the planet and sight with our Green Vision Centers and electric scooters for door-to-door outreach.

Green Vision Centers

To kick off Earth Day, we're announcing the recent opening of 18 Green Vision Centers benefitting over two million people in rural communities in India. Green Vision Centers are an innovative approach to pediatric eye care that improve the quality and accessibility of eye health services while focusing on sustainability. Centers run on solar power which not only reduces carbon impact, but also solves challenges caused by frequent power outages. This means patients are ensured uninterrupted, quality eye care, regardless of access to electricity.

Children receive free access to eye screenings, glasses and other eye care services at the Green Vision Centers, which also provide primary eye care services to the community. Routine eye screenings are critical in catching diseases early, when they are most likely to be treatable. For complex cases which require advanced care, each center is connected with a hospital for referrals. Staff also conduct screenings and provide glasses to children in schools and day care centers located in the communities surrounding the centers.

Each Center has been designed for minimal carbon impact and is strategically located to serve a population of over 100,000. Fourteen of the Centers are opened with support from USAID and the Lavelle Fund for the Blind. All 18 Centers are run in coordination with Orbis local partners.

Vision technician Tamanna gives a man new glasses.

Tamanna, who received vision technician training at a Green Vision Center, gives a man his new glasses.

Benefitting Women and Girls

Five of the new Green Vision Centers also address a variety of traditional barriers for women and girls. We trained women-led management teams to run the centers, creating jobs and increasing financial independence for women. Ten vision technicians and five community health workers have already been trained and employed to work in the new facilities, like Tamanna from West Bengal.

Tamanna notes that the Vision Technician courses at the Green Vision Centers have made eye care accessible for her community. "With the availability of courses like mine, a Vision Technician and even optometrists are available in those remote areas."

An added benefit of having female staff is that many women in rural communities in India are more likely to seek eye care for themselves and their children when it is administered by other women. As we continue our partnerships with local hospitals, we aim to empower even more women through career opportunities.

Meet the REACH Team

In addition to adding and improving Green Vision Centers in India, we've partnered with Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital (SGLEH) to expand our REACH (Refractive Errors Among Children) project. Our REACH project makes eye screenings even more accessible for children, employing a strategy of both door-to-door and school outreach. The door-to-door approach has been particularly helpful during the pandemic, when many children have been at home due to school closures.

The team responsible for these invaluable screenings is composed of a range of eye care professionals. Community health workers like Niharika and Suman conduct school and door-to-door outreach, while also raising community awareness. By traveling on electric scooters, they further reduce our environmental impact.

Project manager Kuldeep leads daily meetings to synchronize field activities and mitigate challenges—like how to approach a family during a visit, and how to identify eye ailments. Kuldeep is often joined by optometrist Koyel, who shares her expertise on eye diseases.

Kuldeep holds a morning meeting with Niharika and Suman.

Kuldeep holds a morning meeting with Niharika and Suman.

Niharika and Suman start by approaching every household for eye screening. Using handy tools and following COVID safety protocols, the workers ensure that early diagnosis and treatment is possible for every child. Children and elderly community members who are found to have an eye ailment are immediately referred to the nearest Green Vision Center for secondary evaluation.

In the evening, Niharika and Suman upload the details of individuals screened and referred into the Orbis door-to-door mobile application, REACHsoft, where optometrists like Koyel can monitor patient care.

Thank You for Your Support

Thanks to all of you—our supporters—we've conducted more than 17.5 million pediatric eye screenings, provided medical and optical treatment to 1.6 million children, performed 103,000 surgeries on children and organized 180,000 ophthalmic trainings completed by doctors, nurses, community health workers and others in India. The 18 new Green Vision Centers, among 22 that Orbis has established across India to date, are run in collaboration with local partners: the Susrut Eye Foundation and Research Center, Sitapur Eye Hospital, Poona Blind Men Association’s HV Desai Eye Hospital, Little Flower Hospital and Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital. With the expansion of our program and addition of even more Green Vision Centers, we will be able to save the sight of even more people.

Dr. Rishi Raj Borah

Country Director for Orbis India

More chil­dren are blind in India than in any oth­er coun­try, and in over half of cas­es, sight could be restored with ear­ly inter­ven­tion and treat­ment. Ensur­ing that fam­i­lies can access their children’s care close to home is crit­i­cal to over­com­ing this chal­lenge. That’s why I’m so proud of the Green Vision Cen­ters in oper­a­tion today — with all the poten­tial they rep­re­sent for chil­dren, for rur­al com­mu­ni­ties and for our planet.

Help our green initiatives REACH even higher!

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