A programme in Ethiopia has provided eye care to more than 184,000 people since it was established three years ago, far exceeding expectations, Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) has revealed.
The programme was funded through a substantial grant awarded to VAO by the Department for International Development (DFID) in 2013, as well as Essilor UK. Through the funding the charity was able to offer eye care to the people living in five districts in southern Ethiopia, providing them with spectacles and treatment for eye diseases.
During the three years that the programme was funded, VAO, in partnership with the Ethiopia NGO, Grarbet Tehadiso Mahber (GTM), was able to screen 184,491 people, provide glasses to 14,909 patients and treat 5150 people with eye disease. Furthermore, it trained 710 teachers to perform school screening and identify common eye conditions.
A final year survey on the programme reported that 78% of people who received spectacles or treatment for an eye condition said their quality of life had improved. Additionally, of the 2569 children treated during the project, 73% showed improvement in their school work.
Director of the programme, Anne Buglass, said: “Over £200bln worth of productivity is lost each year because people do not have the glasses they need to see clearly. The outcome of the programme showed that when eye care is made accessible, adults are more likely to increase their household income, and children are more likely to reach their potential in school, achieve better education, and in the long term have greater economic prospects when they leave school.”