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IVI launches campaign to combat Myopia in India

Published: 09.07.2021
A man puts on a school boy's glasses

Recognising the growing threat of near-sightedness, or myopia, India Vision Institute (IVI) has announced a long-term initiative to help fight the problem in India.

“Myopia is already a major issue in several parts of the world, including Singapore and China. In India, this will become a major public health problem if required preventive and interventive measures are not taken,” said IVI’s CEO Vinod Daniel. “The magnitude of the problem is huge, with large numbers increasingly being affected for a variety of reasons, not least due to lifestyle changes, including reduced outdoor activities and increased time spent by children indoors, during the pandemic.”

“Currently 7-8% of children in India aged 5-15 years are believed to be suffering from myopia and this is predicted to increase substantially over the coming decade. For children, this would directly impact their ability to study and do well in school, and for adults, it will have a direct impact on productivity. The risk of accidents will also greatly increase if this is not treated through a vision screening and provision of a pair of glasses. The IVI initiative will help bring a better quality of life to crores of people,” added Mr Daniel.

The initiative will launch with an online Myopia Lecture Series 15 July -19 August. Focused on different aspects of Myopia, the series will comprise six talks from world leaders over two months.

The themes include, among others, Real World Myopia Management, Onset, Cause and Risk Factors for Myopia, Clinical Trials for Myopia Control and Update on the Guidelines for Management of Myopia. Speakers at the lecture series include Prof Padmaja Sankaridurg, Head, Myopia/Head Intellectual Property BHVI, Conjoint Professor, School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Prof James Wolffsohn, Professor of Optometry & Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor, Aston University, and Dr Monica Jong, Executive Director, International Myopia Institute/Assistant Professor, University of Canberra.

Myopia will also be a focus at the upcoming IVI 2nd International Optometry Conference – Eye Health in a Changing World, 9-11 September. The three-day virtual annual conference will attract over 2,000 registered delegates representing practice, profession, academics, optical industry and retail from across the world. Delegates can access some 40 hours of talks by speakers, including eye health experts, optometrists and public health specialists from across the world. Last year, IVI organised the first Eye Health in a Changing World conference.

“IVI aims to screen over a million people over the next five years– Reaching the Unreached who have never had access to vision screening and a pair of spectacles, IVI will continue with its ongoing school vision screening programmes in corporation and tribal schools in several states and adult campaigns, including for truck drivers, daily wage earners and the weaving community. Thanks to Sightsavers India, IVI is launching a mobile vision screening unit in Chennai. Our programs will involve strategic partnerships with leading ophthalmic companies including Hoya, Carl Zeiss India Pvt Ltd and EssilorLuxottica. ” he added.

“A strong research and awareness component will be part of the campaign. Research will enable us to quantify both the need and the efficiency with which the strategies are delivered. Awareness generation will help more children and adults realise the need for refractive correction and get a pair of spectacles if necessary. Through our work on Uncorrected Refractive Error since 2012, over 450,000 children and adults have benefited from 1,100 screening programs in 20 states across India (with nearly 62,000 spectacles distributed). Our strength has been our partnership with like-minded NGOs and others,” Mr Daniel added.

Image on top: A man puts on a school boy’s glasses by Amal Gupta