Sightsavers Reports

How we’re training teachers to spot blinding eye conditions

A student covers one eye during an eye test at a school in India.

Mr Aahiswar is head teacher at Rangai Middle School in Vidisha, a city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

He’s just one of the teachers that Sightsavers has helped to train to identify eye conditions: he now screens students for vision problems so children can get the life-changing help they need.

Once a year, the teachers invite an ophthalmologist into the school to check students’ eyes and distribute glasses if they’re needed. These classroom eye tests are crucial: visual impairments in children can seriously affect their ability to learn. Left undetected and untreated, some conditions can even lead to blindness.

Mr Aahiswar, head teacher at Rangai Middle School in India.

Previously, when Mr Aahiswar suspected a child had vision problems, he’d suggest they get their eyes checked at a hospital. But the costs of getting there are beyond the reach of many families.

Now Mr Aahiswar does the tests himself with the help of a screening chart. If a child needs further treatment, he’s able to refer them to hospital and their travel costs are covered by Sightsavers.

“I can do the primary screening, and now I can contact staff to come and check the children’s eyes,” Mr Aahiswar explains. “Sightsavers and the hospital are both very proactive and because of this programme, the children are benefitting.”

2.6 million
children in India have been screened as part of the project
Indian girl at a school eye test

One of those children is 13-year-old Roshani. “From some distance, I can’t read,” she explains. “I have to bring the books close to my eyes.”

After having her eyes screened at the school, Roshani was found to be short-sighted and was prescribed glasses. She’s delighted to have them. “I will be able to see the small letters on the screening charts!” Roshani exclaims.

Another student who has benefitted from the programme is four-year-old Rukmani (pictured below with her father), whose teacher detected her blinding cataract and helped to save her sight.

If her teacher hadn’t been trained to check her eyes, Rukmani could easily have lost the sight in one eye. And while Rukmani may be too young to realise the impact of her blinding cataract, to her father and mother the surgery came just in time to secure their daughter’s future.

teachers and classroom assistants have been trained
Rukmani with her father after her cataract operation.

Rukmani’s father, Babulal, explains that she used to bump into things and tilt her head to try to see. The family were unable to afford treatment for her, but thanks to Sightsavers she was able to have a sight-saving operation.

“Rukmani is now happy,” Babulal says. “Even we are happy because now her life is on track. Now she can study. We have given a book to her and she has recognised the alphabet.”

Thanks to supporters like you, Sightsavers can continue to make sure teachers such as Mr Aahiswar are trained to spot potentially blinding eye conditions, so children like Rukmani and Roshani are able to have the sight-saving treatment they need. We’re so grateful for your help.

Rukmani sits in hospital after her cataract operation. Her father and a nurse smile behind her.

“Rukmani is happy, and we are happy because her life is on track. Now she can study.”

Rukmani sits in hospital after her cataract operation. Her father and a nurse smile behind her.

Your gift could train more teachers to check eye health

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