During one of our regular missions to provide quality and comprehensive eye care to school-age children in Tibet, one of the underserved areas in China, a girl in middle school told us that she had been unable to see the blackboard clearly for a while, but she didn’t know it could be fixed by a pair of glasses. “See, I see differently with and without them”, she exclaimed, and kept putting the glasses on and off to show to her peers.
As the largest public eye hospital in China, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University is committed to the prevention of blindness, and now, the realization of universal eye health for all in China. For this, we conduct diverse activities. In addition to projects focusing on capacity building of local hospitals to provide quality eye services, we conduct screenings and referrals, especially in rural and remote areas. In 2020 and 2021, we have provided:
- Comprehensive eye service to the elderly population in Yangxi, Yangjiang
- Vision screening and dispensing service to school-age children in Tibet
- Comprehensive eye service to the elderly population in Qujiang, Shaoguan
- Cataract screening and surgery service in Yushu, Tibet
- Comprehensive eye service to the elderly population in Fengqing, Yunnan
During our service, it is surprising yet common to observe poor eye health literacy among the public. Some thought as they aged, their vision was expected to become blurry, just as their hair gets gray. Some thought cataract surgery would be very expensive and complex.
While we have been busy providing services, some do have access to them; they just do not know if they need them and when/how/where to seek them. To address this, improving accessibility and acceptability of eye care services is just as important as availability. The realization of universal health coverage is a joint effort from the professional (to provide more) and the public (to seek when needed).
Aligned with the recommendations of the World Report on Vision, raising awareness and engaging and empowering the general public and communities on eye care needs is one of the priorities in our work plan, so that the public is aware that:
- Regular eye exam and early detection will do no harm;
- If vision becomes blurry, eye care services should be timely sought;
- There are effective interventions that address all eye care needs;
- The interventions might be cheap and simple, and safe most of the time;
We are developing a down-to-earth chart for the general public on when and how often to have eye check. Find above the outline of the chart (translated).