“Myopia” is on the rise, the WHO has projected that half of the world’s population will become myopic by 2050, if the current trend continues. This problem is more pronounced now more than ever, with online education and schools and colleges being closed due to the pandemic. With 80% of learning attributed to seeing, it is important that children have good visual performance which will have an impact on their studies. Conditions such as Amblyopia, suppression and other binocular vision problems which further lead to learning and hand eye coordination disorders are often missed if children are not subject to an eye exam earlier in life. Adult’s vision play an important role in terms of their work and productivity. People above 40 years have near vision issues, coupled with systemic diseases such as Diabetes and Hypertension. Most systemic diseases do have an impact on the visual performance and therefore the role of the optometrist is crucial in terms of creating awareness, early detection and appropriate referral.
In support of the UN resolution “Eye health for all by 2030”, and to create public awareness on eye care, Optometry Council of India (OCI) has announced a screening initiative on the occasion of World Sight Day (WSD). OCI has announced 100,000 screenings in 100 days commencing from 1st September 2021. In view of the COVID-19 situation, OCI has proposed a simple protocol, where optometrists can screen their own family members and friends. Private practitioners can screen relatives who accompany the person who has come for an eye exam. Optometrists working in hospitals can screen the family of staff and their children. OCI will acknowledge optometrists who conduct increased number of screening through badges, certificate and trophies. Indian optometrists have risen to the challenge by responding to the challenge and expressing their interest in participating in this initiative. We have also received support from organizations such as Aravind Eye Care Systems, Vision 2020 India and retail chains.
OCI is also working on creating Myopia awareness through policy changes in the government. OCI has already released the “Myopia White Paper” for India and submitted the same to the Indian Government. OCI will soon be releasing an awareness film on Myopia and what interventions can be done to prevent myopia and myopic progression. OCI along with a few partners is also providing small bookmarks that can be distributed to parents of children, where the bookmark provides eye care tips to children. Our strength is in our membership of 5000 optometrists across India and volunteers who work with the organization. OCI also partners with many NGOs in providing eye screening as well as spectacles free of cost to the needy: to name a few: Drishyam – the gift of sight, Experience vision, Truck driver screening, School bus driver screening and most recently Farmers eye screening project.
We welcome our partners to support OCI initiative of screening 100,000 individuals in 100 days and those interested can please contact [email protected]
Image on top: Mega eye camp for schools by Lions Club and Aloka Vision Programme in August 2019, Bengaluru/ Photo by Joachim Kuss