Barzilai Foundation Launches Vision Screening Program Supporting Students in India

Disabilities can severely limit a person’s ability to be work, gain financially stability, or operate independently. Blindness is especially debilitating, irreversibly impairing a person’s ability to join the workforce and earn an income. Detection can make a real impact; in developing countries most cases of childhood blindness are preventable.* Unfortunately, in some parts of rural India, basic medical care can be difficult to obtain.

The Barzilai Foundation is partnering with the Sankar Foundation to help identify and support youths pursuing educational goals who are at risk for vision impairment. Vision screening camps will be held at local schools, throughout 2024, where students will get access to medical professionals who can properly identify issues before they become serious.

This program combines two areas of emphasis for the Barzilai Foundation: access to medical care and supporting education with a goal of reaching over 2,000 children.

By providing these camps at schools, we are working with students and families who have already chosen to prioritize education. Less than 50% of 15-19 years old in rural India are enrolled in secondary education, often a minimum qualification for successful participation in the labour market.**

Students in these areas may go their entire childhood without ever having their eyes checked. Thirty percent of blindness cases in India happen before age 20, creating significant urgency to introduce screenings early.*** For children who are not at risk for blindness, the camp will provide access to medication and corrective lenses that will support them continuing their educational journey.

“Children are the future of any nation, and when students encounter challenges in visualizing the blackboard or reading their textbooks, it inevitably hampers their academic journey, thereby affecting the progress of the nation,” said Ramesh Kumar, General Manager of Patient Care at Sankar Foundation. “Additionally, these difficulties have a profound impact on their morale, confidence, and self-esteem. While some students may need significant medical intervention, many others suffer with issues that affect their learning progress. Our eye screening camps are dedicated to identifying students suffering from refractive errors, offering essential medications and corrective lenses, and empowering them with the resources they need to excel in their education and contribute to a brighter future."

Student choosing the style for their new glasses

The program will begin with camps in Visakhapatnam in Spring 2024. The goal is to reach over 2,000 students over the course of the year.

“Through this program, we will find students who would have otherwise lost their vision, or who would have dropped out of school because they couldn’t see well enough.” said Brandon Sosa, CEO of the Barzilai Foundation.“That kind of impact demonstrates our collective commitment to working to remove the barriers others are facing.”