Premed Spotlight: India Eye Screening Program

By December 24, 2019 March 17th, 2020 Premed Spotlight
Premed Spotlight - India Eye Program

Written by: A. K. University of South Florida

The Aravind System

The Aravind Eye Care System in India is the largest and most productive provider of ophthalmological services in the world. Its founding goal to eradicate needless blindness in India has already provided eye sight and care to millions in India from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Treatment at Aravind is independent from a patient’s to pay. In fact, over 60 percent of its services being performed at no and low costs. With low complication rates, high clinical productivity and rigorous performance management, the Aravind healthcare model has been applauded by both businesses and hospitals as an extremely effective healthcare model. Aravind is able to provide high-quality care to some of India’s most vulnerable populations with its several hospitals, community clinics and vision centers around Tamil Nadu. Frequent eye camps allow medical teams to reach patients in rural areas. An outreach camp can screen about 1,500 patients in a single day, with multiple eye camps occurring every week. An eye camp offers free a vision test, preliminary exam, refraction, free corrective lenses, and free transport to the base hospital if further care is needed. Aravind eye camps have been essential in bringing high quality and free eye care to the doorsteps of some of the most remote communities in India

Turning an Empty Lunch Room to a Screening Clinic

On Friday June 21, 2019, I volunteered at my first school eye camp. As part of a regular eye health screening program, an all-female team of, 5 trained nurses, an optometrist, a 1 project manager and one pediatric ophthalmologist set out on an early Friday morning to a village about an hour away from the base hospital. The children being screened today were students of the Gnanambikai Matriculation School Perur, a community school in the outskirts of Coimbatore. The team and I set out in a van, fully equipped with grinding machines and optometric tools to create corrective lenses for any child that required it. Upon our arrival at the school, the nurses enthusiastically took to the empty lunch room and quickly began moving tables and chairs around. Within 5 minutes, the nurses built a refraction tent using PVC pipes and black cloth, set up a preliminary vision test, and a station to test for strabismus and other pediatric ailments. Over the next 5 hours, over 219 children from the age of four to 16 were screened, provided corrective lenses, giving medication and provided with follow up referrals if needed. It was by far the most efficient and effective form of healthcare delivery I had ever witnessed. Globally, uncorrected refractive error is the main cause of vision impairment in children aged 6-15 years, with the prevalence of myopia increasing dramatically among children. Aravind outreach camps in schools specifically concentrate on refractive error, which often lead to lack of academic success in school when detected late. All children in every camp go through a preliminary vision test, refraction and a single cover test by an ophthalmologist.