Kannusamy Veena on behalf of Aravind Eye Hospital, Pondicherry, India
Reducing the number of undetected ocular defects in school children by training teachers to screen students for refractive errors and ocular diseases, and improving follow-up adherence to hospital recommendations and treatment
An estimated 5–10% of Indian school children have vision or other ocular defects, and screening currently conducted by teachers underestimates the problem.
A completed pilot scheme has already trained 44 teachers, and over 1,300 students have been successfully screened; ocular defects were reported in 8.1% of students.
This initiative aims to improve the current system used in schools and thus reduce the number of undetected ocular defects in school children. By employing teachers in this program, the project also aims to encourage students' adherence to hospital recommendations and treatment through education of both the students and their parents.
Teachers from 400 high-volume schools, comprising a total of around 400,000 children, will be trained to screen and identify refractive errors and ocular diseases in students in their classes. Standard eye screening kits, including Snellen and illiterate eye charts, will be provided free of charge. An eye-health team will travel to the schools and perform additional eye examinations and confirm diagnoses. Glasses will be offered at a subsidized rate to those in need, and students requiring further investigation will be referred to the local eye hospital.
It is hoped that this initiative has the potential to greatly reduce needless visual disparities among school children in India.
Six field workers were selected from the local area to train school teachers in screening their pupils for ocular disorders and refractive errors. 150 schools, containing a total of 250,000 students, were identified for the first year of this project, and training started in early 2013 in three schools, involving 206 teachers. Screening began in mid-2013, following the summer vacation.
Last update September 2013