Last December, Operation Eyesight participated in GivingTuesday – the global day of giving – for the first time. Thanks to support from our incredible donors, we raised enough funds on GivingTuesday to set five villages in West Bengal, India free of avoidable blindness!
Through our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program in partnership with Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital (SGLEH), we have already eliminated avoidable blindness in two of the villages (Totaigach and Mantadari, Pradhan Para) and the other three villages (Sahab Para, Futkipara and Patagara) will soon follow suit. In total, these villages have about 500 households or a population of 2,750.
When a village is declared avoidable blindness free, it means that anyone in the village who was suffering from unnecessary blindness, or was at risk of going blind due to preventable causes, has been treated.
To make this possible, Operation Eyesight and SGLEH work with the communities to deliver critical eye care services. First, trained community eye health workers conduct a door-to-door survey to identify those at risk of losing their sight. A vision technician or optometrist from SGLEH then visits the village to verify the findings of the community eye health workers.
Patients who require surgery are examined by a medical team and transported to SGLEH for treatment. We later conduct a follow-up survey to ensure that all patients have undergone treatment and that any new patients are identified. An optometrist or vision technician from SGLEH also follows up with patients to ensure their vision recovery is on track.
In addition to identifying those who require treatment, community eye health workers educate people in the village on the importance of eye health. We emphasize community involvement and ownership to ensure continued eye health-seeking behaviour in the village.
Once we have verified that all patients have undergone treatment, a public meeting is organized to declare the village avoidable blindness free. Patients and their families, village representatives, local politicians and all the villagers attend.
We look forward to participating in GivingTuesday again on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Stay tuned for details on how you can get involved. Thank you so much for your support!