Three school children wearing glasses after school screenings in Nepal

Saving sight in Nepal through school outreach programs

Did you know the largest cause of visual impairment among children globally is refractive error? A common condition that leads to blurry vision and can be easily corrected with a pair of glasses. But if a child can’t access the eye care they need, it can significantly affect their education, their confidence, and ultimately their future.

Since 2019, we've been working in partnership with Nepal’s National Society of Comprehensive Eye Care to deliver eye care to kids through school networks. Through our Refractive Error Among Children (REACH) project we've been screening and treating refractive error via a sustainable and scalable solution.

Orbis, along with our partners, develops teams of ophthalmic personnel and supports them with digital and clinical equipment to perform screenings in schools, and provide eyeglasses, as well as referrals for children who require further examination and treatment. This model has also been rolled out successfully in India, Ghana, and Bangladesh.

Aadya's Story

Girl called Aadya wearing glasses and looking in the mirror

Aadya admiring her new glasses in the mirror

Aadya was asked what she could see with her new glasses. “Everything!” she says with a big smile on her face.

Aadya loves nothing more than to play and watch TV with her siblings. But for the past year, this had become more difficult as her vision blurred and she struggled to see. Her father Ajay noticed something was wrong: “She would sit very close to the TV, and at school she would make frequent mistakes while studying. “My wife and I were worried about Aadya’s education and her future. You need healthy vision to do anything."

Aadya was able to access vision screening at her school thanks to Orbis supporters, where she was diagnosed as short-sighted. She was prescribed a free pair of glasses which she could pick up herself. She hasn’t taken them off since. “I could see the transformation in my daughter immediately. Now she can see clearly and writes better with fewer corrections. The impact this is making on her education is very clear.”

“Eyes are life. If you have healthy eyes, you can see everything in this world.”

A child called Aadya wearing her new glasses

Aadya in her new glasses thanks to Orbis's REACH programme in Nepal

The Impact of Reach

Thanks to your donations, a 36-month program in Nepal’s Siraha and Parsa districts reached 330,000 children, who were screened for refractive error. Initially, screenings solely took place in schools, but when the pandemic shut schools for a total of 14 months, our teams had to think of a plan B.

By travelling home-to-home providing screenings on doorsteps we not only continued our sight-saving work, but we screened more children who do not go to school due to disabilities or living too far away.

Throughout the three years, nearly 6,500 children were diagnosed with refractive error and prescribed glasses. We were also able to identify nearly 3,500 children living with other eye conditions such as cataract and squint, referring them to hospital for further treatment.

Reach’s Legacy

While this project has come to an end our work in Nepal continues. We are delighted to report that since the program finished Nepal’s government has agreed to integrate eye health into school programs across the country. This means crucial screenings will continue to be available to all children in Nepal. We have also equipped five primary eye centers to provide services to the whole community going forward.

A legacy we could not have reached without your support.

Help us continue our sight-saving work across the world.

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