Karnataka

Teachers keeping a keen eye on schoolchildren

Govt. schools are getting vision walls and staff are being trained to screen children for refractive errors

About 30,000 government and aided schoolchildren with refractive errors in backward Bidar, Ballari and Koppal districts are likely to end this academic year having their eyesights corrected through spectacles.

Schools are getting vision walls and teachers are being trained to screen children for refractive errors in the districts and later being screened by ophthalmologists. The initiative — by Nayonika Eye Care Charitable Trust that has signed a MoU with the State government — will cover nearly 9 lakh students in these districts. Those screened with refractive errors are being given with spectacles in the less than a fortnight.

“The national average of children with refractive errors is about 6%. The project is being implemented in government schools where students or parents may not realise that the child has a refractive error. In Kalyana Karnataka, government infrastructure to screen children is limited,” said Bandeppa Kashempur, former Minister and JD(S) MLA for Bidar south. “This is being done at no cost to the government.”

While Bidar district with a government school enrolment of about 2.5 lakh students is estimated to be in need of about 12,000 spectacles, Ballari with 3.21 lakh children and Koppal with about 2.1 lakh children requires 16,000 and 10,500 spectacles respectively.

The trust has distributed about 2,000 spectacles in Bidar, and 700 and 300 spectacles in Ballari and Koppal respectively. This year, the government plans to distribute 2,000 spectacles each in Bidar and Ballari and 1,000 spectacles in Koppal district.

“Before the end of March 2020, we plan to screen and provide spectacles to about 30,000 children. Our efforts will scale up the government’s effort and all the children in these districts could be covered faster,” said NRI S.B. Prashant, who with his ophthalmologist wife Surekha P. founded Nayonika Eye Care Charitable Trust. Mr. Prashant has tied up with Essilor Vision Foundation for the spectacle project. ““Our involvement does not end with distribution of spectacles. In case the eye power changes, we will intervene to get the child a new spectacles,” he said.

He said that most cases of avoidable blindness in the country are found in urban slums and rural areas, and that the trust has been working on the field for about six years. “Over the next four years, we will also work in Bidar South constituency to make it avoidable blindness-free constituency in the country with door-to-door screening camp.”

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 12:53:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/teachers-keeping-a-keen-eye-on-schoolchildren/article29577736.ece

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