Eye Camps

In the bus 2Shared Vision sets up “Eye Camps”. These are community based outreach programs in which eye specialists and ophthalmic assistants from the city are taken to the heart of the villages. There they screen men, women and children for refractory disorders, cataracts and other eye problems. People with refractory disorders are given new eyeglasses on the spot; and those with cataracts and other eye problems are transported to a specialized eye hospital in the city of Jodhpur for treatment.

Camp after surgeryAll this service is provided free-of-charge to the patient.

Woman in green smiling after surgery 2005-11-17 India II 740Since the start of this program in 2004 the Shared Vision Foundation held 56 camps in the country side, serving a population of more than 900.000 people, scattered over many hundreds villages.

In this population more than 44.000 men, women and children with eye problems were seen.

31.600 individuals received spectacles with glasses on strength.

1.117 cataract surgeries were conducted.

The total amount of money spent was 116.000 Euro, which means that the cost per screened person was about 2.87 Euro. Half of the costs are used for the awareness in the villages, eye glasses, transport of patients and family to the hospital and the aftercare. 50% is for salary of staff personnel and hospital costs.


Success Stories

Cataracts usually are more prevalent in older people, but in contrast to the Western population they are also present in the children and younger people of this area.
For example, in the very first camp Shared Vision held there were three young children suffering from cataracts.

Young girl after treatment 2005-11-17 India II 668One girl stood out. She was then nine years old, and could not see since her first year as a result of cataracts. Her father explained that he had never presented her case to a doctor as he (wrongly) assumed that nothing could be done about it – a very common mistake we have found to happen. Moreover, he did not have the money to go to a doctor in the city. The girl was operated on both eyes and underwent follow-up surgery. The outcome was very positive and our foundation was able to give the girl the ability to see again and function normally. Ignorance about the wonders of modern medicine and the inability to pay for medical treatment are major deterrents to early detection and the treatment of preventable diseases.


Causes of blindness and visual impairment – Facts & Figures

Blind people in the world: 35 million
In India: 12 million
In Rajasthan: 1.5 million

Mother with 2 blind kidsIt is a poignant tragedy that India has the largest quantum of blindness in the world. Out of the 1.1 billion inhabitants, there are 12 million blind people in India – one third of the total blind population in the world.

More astonishingly, there are a large number of people who are visually impaired due to refractive errors or low vision. The National Program for the Control of Blindness has estimated that about 45 million children and adults in India are visually impaired and need eyeglasses to improve their poor vision. Among underserved populations, uncorrected refractive errors are one of the leading causes of blindness. The key factors which limit access to the correction of refractive errors are a lack of trained eye care professionals to diagnose and prescribe eye glasses, the high cost of eyeglasses and eye care services and a multitude of social and physical barriers.

The state of Rajasthan has the second highest prevalence of blindness in the country where 2.5% of the total population of 56 million in the state is affected. This means that there are more than 1.5 million blind people in Rajasthan.
The causal factors associated with blindness in India as suggested by the practicing eye specialists are as follows:

  • Aging population & early formation of cataracts
  • Uncorrected refractive errors
  • Excessive exposure to the sun’s ultra-violet rays
  • Poverty, malnutrition & Vitamin A deficiency
  • Diabetes and retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal Blindness
  • Eye injuries
  • Urban-rural disparity in the distribution of eye specialists and opticians (70% of the Indian population lives in villages, while 80% of eye specialists and opticians work in cities).

There are some very effective programs for cataract surgery in India but the problem of correcting refractive errors is largely ignored.

Our experience shows that in an eye camp the number of patients requiring medical attention is 20%, those requiring cataract surgery is 20%, whereas those requiring corrective eyeglasses are about 60%.

In the Jodhpur district with a population of nearly 3 million people, almost 2 million live in 860 villages in the rural countryside. There are no opticians or optometrists in those areas where the bulk of the population resides. All opticians or optometrists reside and do business in Jodhpur City. Consequently, the rural population has to travel to Jodhpur to buy glasses and frames and this entails a lot of expenditure on travel (often with a companion), food, consultation and spectacles. Almost always, the spectacles are sold for hefty profits. As a result, people usually defer getting a pair of spectacles. Many people resort to making home repairs of old glasses with wires and thread and end up wearing an improper corrective lens strength which not only endangers their vision but also their face by the potential to get cuts from the sharp wires.

A basic vision service with quick delivery of correct eyeglasses is therefore urgently needed.

Background Information: What are cataracts and how are they treated?

A cataract is a “clouding” of the lens in the eye. The lens, which sits right behind the iris (the colored part of the eye), in essence functions like the lens of a camera. It picks up images, and then focuses lights, colors, and shapes on the retina (the transmitter which sits at the back of the eye that sends the images to the brain).

Old men's eyesThe human lens, made mostly of protein and water, can become clouded — so clouded it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Eye injury, ultra-violet light, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause the clouding. But, in over 90% of cases clouding is caused by the aging process. A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, or seeing things at night is more difficult. It may also be why the eyeglasses or contact lenses that used to help to read or do other simple tasks no longer seem to help.

In order to treat cataracts, the clouded lens is removed. The natural lens is then replaced with an artificial intraocular lens. Cataract operations are generally regarded as among the safest types of surgery, and although complications can occur, well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision.

As a point of interest: The earliest references to cataract surgery are found in Sanskrit manuscripts dating from the 5th century BC, which show that Susruta, was a great surgeon of ancient India, developed specialized instruments and performed the earliest eye surgery in India.

How your donation can help

In the past three years Shared Vision has organized 16 eye camps screening for refractory disorders, cataracts and other eye problems and arranging for their treatment. Eye specialists from the city travel to the villages to do the screening. Each camp has attracted between 500 and 1,000 people, who seek help in regards to their poor eyesight. Patients with cataracts are taken to a specialized eye hospital in the city of Jodhpur. After the eye operation and stay of two to three days in the hospital they are taken back to their villages. They are followed for a further one to six months to ensure that they have made the desired improvement. The cost for each such camp, the eye operation & hospital stay, food and transportation and the provision of new eyeglasses is between EUR 1,600 to EUR 4,000.

Thousands of village people, who usually do not have easy access to specialist medical help -nor potentially have the knowledge that modern healthcare, can provide a solution- take the opportunity to finally meet eye specialists. This overwhelming response shows the dire need for blindness prevention programs in these poor areas. According to Shared Vision, this is only the tip of the iceberg – there is so much more to do.

To date we have spent EUR 116.000. We need support to continue this work and expand it to other remote areas in Western Rajasthan.

Mobile Refraction Clinics Result 2014: MRC Compiled Data 2014

Summary data on all Eye Camps held from 2004 – 2010 in Jodhpur district,
Western Rajasthan, India.
No. eye camps
No. screened visual impairment
No refract. disorders and glasses
No. village people served
Cost in euro