Fight for sight

The Akhand Jyoti-Orbis Comprehensive Childhood Blindness Project helps address five of the sustainable development goals.

Published on August 20, 2020 at 8:00 am

Updated on January 26, 2021 at 06:51 am

Orbis and Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital come together to set up Bihar’s first Children’s Eye Centre.

Suman was unable to regularly continue schooling as a result of her eye problem. She was diagnosed with cataract (clouding of the lens of the eyes) at Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital, Mastichak. The 12-year-old from Buxar travelled all the way to Mastichak along with her grandfather, who was immensely concerned about her condition.

Like all other specialisations, ophthalmology also requires a pediatric ophthalmology team to test children’s eyes, examine, diagnose and treat their condition. With the Orbis support, Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital (AJEH) recently launched its Children’s Eye Center (CEC). It is the state’s first ever Children’s Eye Center. The facility is up and running and has a promising team of expert pediatric ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other ophthalmic personnel.

But more than that, how does the CEC, inaugurated four months ago, help a child visiting the hospital? It has a child-friendly and colorful waiting area with toys and cartoons to engage children. In addition, the design of the waiting area ensures that they do not feel uncomfortable in an alien environment such as a hospital. The child patient room interiors are also colorful and the environment is made child-friendly to ensure they do not have any danger of being hurt while being in the room during post-operative care.

Suman’s diagnosis and the solution for her condition was a simple cataract-removal surgery. But her predicament continued for 12 long years. Although enrolled in school, Suman was not able to study properly because of vision impairment. It translated to the loss of the basic right to education of a child. She was losing out on something as crucial as education but also on playing outdoors, making friends, finding a social circle, identifying her passion! So, when she got her ability to see, she did not just find happiness but also the ability to reach her full potential within the classroom and even beyond.

The initiative in Bihar, in association with AJEH, is an Orbis attempt to address the vision problem of children like Suman who struggle with avoidable blindness. Since 75% of all visual impairment can be prevented or treated, it means millions of children and adults would be able to see today if they had received timely, good quality eye care – the kind of care many of us take for granted. The CEC in Bihar will enable the Orbis partner hospital reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment among children in the state by developing affordable, sustainable, high-quality child eye care services over the next six years.

Suman was elated to see clearly once her cataract was removed. She was very excited about being able to go out and play with her friends!

An elated Suman post-surgery.

Mr. Mritunjay Tiwary, Founder and Head of AJEH, said during the CEC launch, “We firmly believe that irrespective of a person’s capacity to pay, she/he should have access to world-class treatment. This initiative will contribute towards ensuring this. In the coming years, we hope to see every child in Bihar being able to access quality eye care services in their own community, regardless of their social or economic background.”

As part of Orbis’ India Childhood Blindness Initiative (ICBI), 32 CECs have been established with Orbis support across 17 states of the country. It is the largest network of dedicated Children’s Eye Centers in the world.

The Akhand Jyoti-Orbis Comprehensive Childhood Blindness Project helps address five of the sustainable development goals. A child helped through this project will be able to see better which will help her/him to perform better academically giving him a fair opportunity to have a better career; the child’s family will earn more, and as a ripple effect a community has the potential to flourish in the long run as a result.

Orbis and AJEH team members.

Orbis is a global non-governmental organisation that has been engaged in the prevention and treatment of blindness for over 30 years. Orbis provides the skills, resources and knowledge needed to deliver accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners, Orbis offers hands-on training, strengthens eye care infrastructure and advocates the prioritisation of eye health on public health agendas.

Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital is a non-profit eye hospital working towards eradicating curable blindness from the state of Bihar and empowering the women in the community to achieve this. It started as a 20 bedded facility in December 2005 in Mastichak and has developed into a 350 bedded tertiary level hospital with satellite secondary care centres and primary care units in neighbouring districts.



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