Community Related Projects

Primary Eye care programs through vision centers (VC)

VIIO established the Vision Centres Program with the purpose of providing primary eye care services to underserved communities and creating avoidable blindness-free communities. VIIO's program aims to make treatments more affordable and accessible to rural communities. It centres on equity, community participation, inter-sectoral collaboration, and long-term sustainability, which are the hallmarks of primary health care. Through this program, VIIO encourages communities to take responsibility for their eye health, to achieve avoidable blindness- free communities and offer community- based rehabilitation for those with incurable blindness. The program aims to provide treatments, care, and support for the patients at highly subsidised rates, or at no cost at all wherever possible.

In-house training is conducted for clinical and non-clinical staff deployed by the VCs which include Optometrists and Community Health Workers (CHWs) to provide screening, refractive error testing, and other services at the VCs to the beneficiaries in the service areas. The CHW engages with the community and conducts a household survey and preliminary screening of every member of the household. The training included a set of protocols and best practices that enhanced the basic skill sets of the community workers increasing the consistency and quality of services provided. As an accurate diagnosis was important for both treatment and referral, an emphasis was placed to equip the CHW with appropriate basic diagnostic skills, to check the vision, and refer the members of the community to the Vision Centres for an advanced screening and check up by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Capacities are built for the optometrists and the CHWs through planned training sessions through a customised curriculum created in-house and conducted by ophthalmologists from the VIIO hospitals on the various subspecialties of ophthalmology to be able to independently handle a majority of the common ophthalmic problems. Tele- ophthalmology, the latest technique used at VCs, utilizes internet-based information technology, allowing patient to have contact with an ophthalmic specialist at a base hospital via video conferencing or through transfer of images. This helps the patients consult a specialist without travelling and thus bridges the gap of inaccessibility of services.

In addition to the community outreach and screenings conducted at each location, the established centres also played an active role in the outreach of children at their schools covered under the project locations. Students screened at their schools and detected with refractive errors are corrected through spectacles dispensed at no cost or at subsidised rates, in addition to providing treatments for other eye diseases. Students are best served by the school visits and screenings conducted by the centres. The centres also undertake health and eye health awareness programs in schools to help students understand the problems that the screenings are attempting to identify. The centres help train local school teachers and administrators to be able to identify students who may have visual impairments, and how best to assist them as well, including providing them with spectacles.

VIIO strongly believes that rehabilitation is an important component of eye health care programs. In order to improve the quality of life of patients whose ailments could not be addressed through treatment, the program offers assistance in the form of various rehabilitation services. Community health workers are trained and they played an active role to provide rehabilitation activities including teaching patients life skills such as personal grooming, and managing daily chores within their space. This is often done in partnership with other non- profit organisations to provide technical training and employable skills are matched with jobs in these areas with the help of non-profit organisation partners. The VCs collaborated with a network of NGOs to place them in employment and to empower the community members. They were also provided with assistance in securing benefits for them under various government programmes. The program is particularly beneficial to senior citizens and students in the local communities. Senior citizens are greatly benefited due to the establishment of the centres in close proximity of the communities, and the provision of free transport to the base hospital for referrals, check- ups, and further treatment. Some of the partner NGOs include Enable India, Mitra Jyothi, Sevasadan School for the disabled, Snehadeep, and The Association of People With Disability. The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has widened the disparities faced by the disadvantaged people and communities, particularly in health care

There was a notable decline in numbers due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

1st April 2020 to March 2021 & 1st April 2021 to March 2022

School screening report 2020 Jan to 2021 Jan