New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS): A pilot project aimed at providing basic eye testing facilities and vision correction by training rural youth was successful, and the programme will now be extended to other parts of the country, its organisers said Thursday.
The Eye Mitra programme, run by a private firm engaged in the export of vision correction lenses and a non-governmental organisation, was tested in the Harpur village of Sultanpur district, Uttar Pradesh.
An estimated 500 million people in India are in need of vision correction, a majority of them in rural areas, the organisers of the Eye Mitra programme said.
"India and China have the largest number of people with uncorrected vision. If no action is taken in this context, 3.2 billion people will be affected by 2050. So, through this Eye Mitra programme, our basic aim is to take vision care to the door steps of rural India," Jayanth Bhuvaraghan of Essilor International told IANS.
Apart from vision correction, the Eye Mitra programme aims to also provide a new source of livelihood to young people in rural areas.
"In collaboration with the non-governmental organisation working in the area, we have trained people to provide life skill training to youth. They have been trained to set up their own small vision care centres in their communities, so that they will be able to test people and provide spectacles where needed," said Sushil Ramola, managing director of Basix Academy for Building Lifelong Employability (B-ABLE), a skill development agency.
There are currently 45 Eye Mitras working in their respective communities.
"We are hopeful that by 2016 we will have 2,200 of them," Bhuvaraghan said.