Healthy vision is essential for a child’s development and must be assured at an early age. The timely detection and treatment of childhood eye conditions, however, is a key challenge in low-income settings as ophthalmic professionals are scarce and awareness of childhood eye problems and available services is low.

student getting screened at school

©Ellen Crystal Photography

Schools provide a convenient, cost-effective opportunity to identify children with visual disorders and to deliver eye health education. Teachers are ideally placed to identify children with learning challenges, screen them for eye problems and coordinate regular visits by an ophthalmic team. While school-based eye health programs are commonly practiced, few have been subjected to proper evaluation.

Aravind Eye Care System, Seva's partner in India, is committed to rigorously evaluating and sharing knowledge from their eye programs. In 2014, Priya Adhiseshan, Pediatric Program Manager at Aravind Pondicherry began evaluating school screening using a simple control study methodology.

For school vision testing, the usual model involved using a few 'select teachers' from each school to receive training and to test all the children in the school. The study compared this traditional model to an alternative approach whereby all the 'home room' teachers of the school were provided training to test their own students. This small, widely adoptable change resulted in huge improvements:

  • 141% increase in children correctly identified who need glasses and other eye care treatment
  • 42% decrease in children incorrectly identified by teachers as having an eye problem
  • 393% increase in compliance with hospital referrals (due to teachers’ relationships with their own students and ability to motivate parents)
  • Vision testing in a school completed 6 times faster
  • 1/3 the cost (due to fewer children having to see the ophthalmic team)
guatemalan boy at school screening

©TOMS

This study, which was published in  Ophthalmic Epidemiology and whose findings will soon be highlighted in a much more widely read  Community Eye Health Journalis one of many being conducted and shared by our partners each year. Supporting research and actively investigating and adopting alternative methods remains a cornerstone of our work as it directly translates into greater awareness and more people, particularly children, receiving the care they need to succeed.

Read the full study here

 

Sight Stories and News

  • Seva Canada makes list of Best Charities for Highly Effective Giving

    Seva Canada is honoured to be featured on The Life You Can Save’s list of non-profit organizations addressing global poverty by performing innovative and cost-effective work to bring medical services, vital nutrients and economic opportunities to people living in extreme poverty.

    Blog | February 1st, 2018
  • Thank You for Your Support in 2017!

    This past year, Seva Canada donors helped over 1 million people benefit from accessible eye care services. Learn more about what you helped accomplish.

    Blog | January 10th, 2018
  • Evolution & Innovation of Seva Canada

    Over thirty-five years ago, Seva’s founders had a vision – a world where no one was needlessly blind or visually impaired. Learn how Seva donors like you have improved and transformed eye care worldwide since then.

    Blog | January 9th, 2018