Most of the barriers facing blind people are within a stone’s throw from their front door. Fear, poverty, and a lack of education don’t cause blindness but they certainly prevent people from accessing care when it’s available and free.
How do we ensure both availability (outreach programs)and acceptance (agreeing to the care they need) of eye care to those who need it most?
Outreach brings eye care personnel and education about prevention, treatment and cure to the front doors of those who need help. It can be transient through camps or permanent through Community Eye Centres. Community Eye Centres are located in remote areas, treat most conditions, and refer complex problems to a hospital
Outreach creates a community eye health system. It establishes a bridge from communities to hospitals and helps to guide people along the way.
Screening is the process by which disease is identified in a population, using simple tests which can be applied rapidly and on a large number of people. Screening is an initial examination; actual diagnosis requires appropriate follow-up examination by trained eye care personnel. Screening can be done by non-medical personnel like teachers and eye health volunteers who receive a minimal amount of training on vision testing and are taught to refer every person who they think needs care – accepting that many people with healthy eyes are seen as well.
In a perfect world, screening for eye disease is built into the health system. Babies are checked when they are born, children are screened in schools and adults receive regular checkups from an eye care provider. In developing countries, little of this screening occurs and so eye disease remains under-diagnosed and untreated.
Seva funds both outreach and screening in all of our programs; from school screening, to community screening by health volunteers, to eye camps, to the establishment of permanent Community Eye Centres in remote and rural areas. No single strategy works the same in every country or even within different regions of one country but we continue to test and evaluate different approaches to make the best use of all the eye care resources a country might have.
Together we can ensure eye care is available starting at everyone’s front door.