Vision Camps Reach Over 800 Students

Nearly 90% of individuals with disabilities in low-income countries are unemployed, and individuals suffering from blindness suffer from poverty at a significantly higher rate than other disabilities. In India, 30% of blindness cases happen by the age of 20 and are largely from preventable conditions, creating an urgency to intervene.

In February, the Barzilai Foundation teamed up with the Sankar Foundation. Before school adjourned for the summer, we conducted two vision screening camps at local schools where students got access to medical professionals who can properly identify vision issues before they progress. With light intervention, we were able to keep these students on the path of academic achievement, protecting their future and their potential.

“Many teenagers in rural India drop out and get stuck in a lifetime of low-paying employment rather than completing secondary education,” said Brandon Sosa, CEO of the Barzilai Foundation. “The students at these camps chose to prioritize education, which will set them up for meaningful, successful participation in the labor market down the road. Through these vision checks, we were able to remove a distinct barrier that threatens their future.”

The first camp was held at Sabbavaram Government High School in Sabbavaram Village. Over two days, the camp screened over 500 people. Ninety-three students were prescribed glasses, due to arrive within the week, and 53 students were prescribed and received much-needed medicine for conditions that were previously undiagnosed. Six students were referred to Sankar Foundation Eye Hospital for additional tests, an indication of the severity of vision issues that were going undiscovered before now.

The second camp was held at Mallunaidupalam Government High School in Mallunaidupalam Village. In just one day, the camp screened nearly 300 students. Thirty-six students were prescribed glasses, 66 received medicine prescriptions, and 20 were referred to Sankar Foundation Eye Hospital for further testing – more than three times the number of referrals in Sabbavaram Village, from half as many screenings.

“The results reinforced to us just how urgently this screening is needed. Nearly a third of participants we tested needed some sort of intervention,” added Sosa. “Seeing these results and knowing how many students have needs makes me even more eager for our upcoming camps with Sankar Foundation this fall. We’re going to bring this program to many, many more students in need.”