USAID provides eye care to thousands of children

(VOV) – Over 15,000 primary and secondary pupils in Hanoi’s Quoc Oai district have received eye tests and high quality prescriptive glasses through a US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project.

At a workshop to review the project in Quoc Oai on June 10, USAID Mission Director Joakim Parker said child blindness and visual impairment are preventable and treatable.

USAID is proud to support Helen Keller International (HKI)-Vietnam and the Hanoi Department of Health, Education and Training, to improve child eye care and prevent visual impairment among Vietnamese children.

Such assistance is an important part of USAID work to expand individual opportunities in Vietnam to protect health and improve well-being.

Out of the students and teachers in 27 primary and secondary schools screened for visual impairment, 10% have been identified with refractive errors and 1,015 (84%) pupils with uncorrected refractive error have been provided with quality corrective lenses. In addition, approximately 300 teachers with refractive errors have also received prescriptive glasses from the project.

The Childsight programme, implemented by HKI-Vietnam, has also trained 73 school and community health workers in vision screening, provided four district refractionists and ophthalmic instruments to Ha Dong Eye Hospital, the Health Center and the General Hospital of Quoc Oai district to improve ophthalmic services.

The project has addressed gaps in the current eye health system in western districts of Hanoi and developed a comprehensive and sustainable system of care for children.

Refractive errors (short-sighted, long-sighted and astigmatism) are a significant cause of visual impairment, blindness and disability, especially in developing countries. It is estimated that one in five Vietnamese children suffer from refractive error, yet most of them have been undiagnosed and untreated. Without treatment, refractive error can worsen and may lead to blindness and irreversible loss of vision, particularly in young children.

First implemented in Kon Tum Province, HKI’s Childsight programme has now expanded to Hanoi’s rural districts and Nam Dinh province, providing services to over 75,000 students and issuing 5,000 quality pairs of glasses to students and teachers.

Participants at a workshop discussed the results, lessons learnt and recommendations to improve the programme in the future.