A father’s eyes lit up with hope and filled with happiness when he learned that his son, whom he thought was almost totally blind, does have some usable vision and with treatment his vision can improve significantly.
The grandmother of a young child with disabilities finds out her grandson has great potential for learning and can be included in the local Anganwadi Centre with the other children in the village.
Such new hopes and possibilities opened up for eight families who gathered at the first centre-based screening session for Project IDI (known locally as Project Asha), a collaboration between Perkins India and Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital. The screenings are designed to further assess children who have MDVI (Multiple Disabilities with Visual Impairment) or are at high risk. Eight children who were initially identified through door to door surveys in nearby villages the previous month were called to the Shroff Vrindavan Centre for a clinical vision assessment and functional screening to confirm their disability and to recommend appropriate intervention.
Ashwini Kumar, Consultant in Charge at Shroff’s Secondary Centre in Vrindavan, said, “Visual disability is often the neglected aspect in any child having multiple disabilities. Screening for the same in such children often leads to finding a rather common morbidity of refractive error which can be very easily corrected with glasses. Identifying and treating visual impairment in such children will give them better opportunities to adapt and learn.”
A multidisciplinary team of Ophthalmologists, Vision Technicians, Education Specialists and Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Workers worked together to screen the children. The safety of the children and their family members was a top priority and all team members wore PPE and ensured that the place and screening materials were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
As a result of the screening, four children were found to have MDVI and 3 children were diagnosed with vision impairments that can be corrected with glasses or other therapeutic methods. Those children identified with MDVI will start receiving intervention services at Shroff’s Early Intervention Centre in Vrindavan. Those diagnosed with refractive errors will receive glasses or additional treatment for their vision impairment.
A parent shared, “I did not expect at all to receive such a quality service and attention from the staff members. The team visited my village, looked at my child and arranged for a session for my child at the hospital. We were living in ignorance; my son will now be getting vision treatment at the hospital. I feel grateful. I am going to share about Shroff’s initiative to support children with vision problems and disabilities with the people of my community.”
The Project IDI assessment team will continue to see children weekly who are identified as having a disability in nearby communities.
“Such screening programs where the rehabilitation and the medical professionals work together are able to provide a holistic solution to the children and their families,” shared Supriya Das, Project Coordinator for Perkins India.