Three school children wearing glasses after school screenings in Nepal

Saving sight in Nepal through school outreach programs

Did you know the biggest cause of visual impairment among children globally is refractive error? It's a common condition that leads to blurry vision and can be easily corrected with a pair of glasses. But if a child can’t access the eye care they need, it can significantly affect their education, their confidence and ultimately their future.

Since 2019, we've been working in partnership with Nepal’s National Society of Comprehensive Eye Care to deliver eye care to kids through school networks. Through our Refractive Error Among Children (REACH) project, we've been screening and treating refractive error via a sustainable and scalable solution.

Orbis, along with our partners, develops teams of ophthalmic personnel and supports them with digital and clinical equipment to perform screenings in schools, and provide eyeglasses. The teams also provide referrals for children who require further examination and treatment. The REACH model has also been rolled out successfully in India, Ghana and Bangladesh.

Aadya's Story

Girl called Aadya wearing glasses and looking in the mirror

Aadya admiring herself in her new glasses in the mirror.

Aadya was asked what she could see with her new glasses. “Everything!” she said with a big smile on her face.

Aadya loves nothing more than to play and watch TV with her siblings. But for the past year, this had become more difficult as her vision blurred and she struggled to see. Her father Ajay noticed something was wrong: “She would sit very close to the TV, and at school she would make frequent mistakes while studying. My wife and I were worried about Aadya’s education and her future. You need healthy vision to do anything."

Thanks to Orbis, Aadya was able to access vision screening at her school, where she was diagnosed with short-sightedness. She was prescribed a free pair of glasses, which she was able to pick herself. She hasn’t taken them off since!

“I could see the transformation in my daughter immediately," Ajay told us. "Now she can see clearly and writes better with fewer corrections. The impact this is making on her education is very clear. Eyes are life. If you have healthy eyes, you can see everything in this world.”

A child called Aadya wearing her new glasses

Aadya sporting her new glasses, thanks to Orbis's REACH program in Nepal.

The Impact of REACH

Thanks to your donations, a 36-month program in Nepal’s Siraha and Parsa districts reached 330,000 children, who were screened for refractive error. Initially, screenings took place only in schools, but when the global pandemic shut schools for a total of 14 months, our teams had to come up with an alternative.

By travelling home-to-home providing screenings on doorsteps, we not only continued our sight-saving work, but we screened more children who may not have gone to school due to disabilities or living too far away.

Throughout the three years, nearly 6,500 children were diagnosed with refractive error and prescribed glasses. We were also able to identify nearly 3,500 children living with other eye conditions such as cataract and squint, referring them to our partner hospital for further treatment.

The Legacy of the REACH Program

While this project has come to an end, our work in Nepal continues. We are delighted to report that since the program finished, Nepal’s government has agreed to integrate eye health into school programs across the country. This means crucial screenings will continue to be available to all children in Nepal. We have also equipped five primary eye centers to provide services to the whole community going forward – a legacy that wouldn't have been possible without your support.

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Help more children see the world, and a brighter future, with a new pair of glasses.

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