Creating the vision for students to thrive in Cameroon [PHOTO ESSAY]
After many decades of eye health being largely ignored in Africa, Helen Keller is teaming up with partners in Cameroon to reach more than 20,000 students with timely vision interventions. Glasses and other eye care can make all the difference in a child’s life – enabling them to succeed in school, make friends, and achieve their dreams.
More than 26.3 million people in Africa have some form of visual impairment. Access to basic eye health services and eyeglasses is expensive and often highly limited, particularly in rural communities, due to a scarcity of eye heath clinicians and optical shops. These challenges are particularly pronounced in Cameroon. As a result, the vast majority of students with refractive error are unable to obtain the eyeglasses they need to thrive and to achieve their full educational potential. Clear vision is essential to school performance and social engagement. Without glasses, students are struggling to see the board, learn in the classroom, and engage with their peers. In partnership with USAID’s Child Blindness Program, the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Secondary Education, and Acha Eye Hospitals, Helen Keller offers vital vision services to students within local schools. We train teachers and nurses to conduct vision care in schools. We also educate them about the importance of clear vision so they can encourage schoolchildren and their parents to participate in the vision screening sessions. Students receive vision screenings and if needed, no-cost prescription eyeglasses, donated from the Essilor Vision Foundation. Parents are then counseled on how to take care of their children’s eyeglasses and ongoing eye health. Students with more serious eye health needs, like conjunctivitis and cataracts, are treated with drugs or referred for care at a local hospital. These timely vision interventions can make all the difference in a child’s life. “We know the problem of vision in various schools is serious. If students don’t see well, it can compromise their output,” said Dr. Elizabeth Attha, Chief Medical Officer of Acha Eye Hospitals. Helen Keller aims to provide inclusive eye care to all students in Cameroon through a sustainable, scalable system of school-based eye health services. In the past year alone, we have reached more than 20,000 students with care, services, and awareness of eye health.
Your support of these sustainable, long-term systemic solutions to eye health means that families won’t have to choose between putting food on the table and buying eyeglasses for a struggling child.
Help all children realize their true potential.