Run on Nov 18 to give blind kids a new vision

After conducting an eye screening camp at numerous government-aided and BMC-run schools, various rotaract groups discovered that 13 per cent students — of 2,700 who were screened — were suffering from refractive error, vitamin A deficiency, squint and infective eye problems.

To raise awareness for preventable blindness and gather resources to provide affordable eye care for the underprivileged students, six Rotaract clubs from the city have organised, I Run in Support (IRIS), a 6-km run on November 18 at 7 am from Nariman point to Girgaum Chowpatty and back.

Open your eyes: A doctor from the Rotaract Club of Caduceus checks a girl student at a government school recently

The event was organised by the young Rotaractors of Lala Lajpatrai College, Caduceus, HR college, Mumbai Shivaji Park residents, Bombay Seacoast Bombay and I love Mumbai (NGO).

Their target is to check 5,000 children studying in civic schools by the end of the year. So far they have checked over 2,700 students. The students who were screened for eye problems belonged to Sundatta High School (Grant Road), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidyalay (Wadala), Banganga Municipal School (Walkeshwar), Aryan Samaj School (Charni Road) and Umeed Foundation (Bandra).

The registration fee will be used for treatment of students with eye problems. Apart from conducting eye screening, students were also given medicines for deworming, Vitamin A prophylaxis, testing for refractory error, ocular infections, vitamin A deficiency, squint and cataract, visual aids and referrals for surgical patients for free.

Priyank Savla from Lala Lajpat Rai College said, “A team of 300 volunteers is working on an eye screening campaign. There are 20 doctors who did the checkups for students from BMC and government-aided schools. The campaign that started in July is still on. Till date, Rotaractors have checked 2,700 students and amongst them 13 per cent were detected with different eye deficiency.”

Dr Sanket Shah of Rotaract Club of Caduceus said, “We conducted eye-screening camps at numerous government-aided schools. First, we did the biggest literature review and expected to get three to four per cent refractory error, which is spectacle power problem, but the checkup revealed a staggering 13 to 14 per cent prevalence of undiagnosed refractory error. This is an appalling figure in a city like Mumbai. Children detected with Vitamin A deficiency were found to have mild squint eye problem and infective eye problems.”

Dr Pankaj Jethvani of Rotaract Club of Caduceus seconded Shah’s opinion. “Young kids don’t know if there is something wrong when they can’t see sharp images on the board. This undiagnosed myopia leads to decreased vision, thus hampering the child’s education. As a part of service for children and elders, the Rotary Club of Bombay Central is conducting 1,000 free cataract surgeries at four centres in Mumbai.” 

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