Categories: Medical and healthcare Date: 26 February 2007 Title: Vision Aid Overseas: "Bringing lives into focus"Being able to see is integral to one's self-respect, and ability to learn and work. In the slums around Tadiwala Road, Pune, the annual visit of Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) is met with anticipation. And for good reason, for jut 50 rupees, locals can receive a pair of spectacles and have a checkup from a certified optometrist. In India, the issue of eye care does not come down to the number of certified optometrists but to the availability of affordable eyewear. For the next two weeks, the VAO will be working in 10 eye camps in rural and urban areas in and around Pune to help alleviate the need.
VAO is a UK based charity that focuses on providing basic eye care and wear to the developing world. In addition to a vision test, each patient is screened for various ocular diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma. If required, they will be referred to an ophthalmologist. Since 1996, in cooperation with the Deep Griha Society, VAO has provided eye care for over 20,000 patients. "We will make a difference together," introduced Mike Offord.
In many of the rural areas, people travel for miles for the possibility of being able to properly see and learn. Being unable to read a blackboard can have a crippling affect on a child's education. The majority of the rural camps are set up in schools to ensure that the largest numbers of children are screened. "There are too many significant memories to list," said Sarah Bunting, "The reactions are so sincere."
VAO and Deep Griha have noted that the need in the city is being met and have been able to focus more time in the rural areas. This is largely due to the long-term commitment from both teams. "I always leave wanting to stay longer," said Sarah Bunting. Several of the eye doctors have been volunteering their time consistently for the last couple of years.