Expanding the Network of Green Vision Centers across the Country

Since 2019, Orbis, in collaboration with partner hospitals has been strengthening and establishing Green Vision Centers (GVCs) to ensure that eye care remains uninterrupted for millions of people located in remote rural regions in the country.

Green Vision Centers adopt an innovative approach that not only improves the quality of eye health in communities that have traditionally lacked access to care, but also operates with sustainability at the forefront. The Centers run on solar power, a solution that is environment-friendly and helps to overcome challenges posed by frequent power outages, ensuring that eye care remains uninterrupted regardless of access to electricity. By equipping the GVC teams with effective patient data management software under the initiative, we have not just increased efficiency of the team, but also minimized the consumption of paper at the GVCs. Outreach teams at the Centers also leverage electric scooters while conducting local school and door-to-door screenings and creating awareness among the community.

With support from USAID, Lavelle Fund for the Blind and Jackson Kemper Foundation, Orbis has established 22 GVCs across West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. The Centers are established in collaboration with Susrut Eye Foundation and Research Center, Sitapur Eye Hospital, PBMA’s HV Desai Eye Hospital, Little Flower Hospital and Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital.

“More children are blind in India than in any other country, and in over half of cases, sight could be restored with early intervention and treatment. Ensuring that families can access their children’s care close to home is critical to overcoming this challenge. That's why I'm so proud of the Green Vision Centers in operation today – with all the potential they represent for children, for rural communities and for our planet.” Dr. Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director, Orbis India

Women Led Green Vision Centers

Five of the Green Vision Centers in West Bengal also address a variety of traditional barriers for women and girls. Orbis trained women-led management teams to run the centers, empowering women in the community through job creation and increasing their financial independence. Ten vision technicians and five community health workers have already been trained and employed to work in the new facilities.

When these women provide services at GVCs or conduct outreach activities in their communities, female patients visiting GVCs or women and girl children in the communities can be inspired and see a potential career path for themselves. Women run GVCs also make other women in the community more receptive to eye care messages and counseling advice.

Moreover, the GVCs are strategically located near the communities, allowing women and specifically female children the opportunity to visit them and access services without the need
to travel long distances, a potential security risk, or requiring time off from their duties in the home or from formal/informal employment.

Tamanna’s Wish

Tucked away in a small part of West Bengal is Murshidabad. Tamanna was trained as a Vision Technician at Orbis partner hospital, Susrut. Today, she is leading one of the women led GVCs supported by USAID.

Finding her unique place:

Tamanna recognizes that as a woman she is lucky her parents always encouraged her to get an education and pursue a profession. She explains, “So many girls I studied with were unable to complete formal education. I remember one such classmate who had been married off when I was in eighth grade.” She strongly believes that if she faced a similar situation, it would be difficult for her to be where she is today - educated and resourcefully employed. Emphasizing on the importance of education, a disappointed Tamanna observed that even today many do not have the same luck as she did in receiving education. She shares, “whenever I see such cases or early marriage, I try, in my capacity, to discourage such a step.”

Her Childhood and Eye Care:

Tamanna fondly reminisces from childhood that her parents would often talk about their expectations of educating her. They hoped that she would choose medical practice or even be a teacher.

When she was younger, she remembers seeing an old lady, in her neighbourhood, suffering from cataract. “I was too young to understand what she was going through at the time. I remember she had gone blind because it was left untreated. Of course, after taking the Vision Technician course and later taking the role of Senior Optometrist at GVC, I understand what had happened to her.

Talking further about the old lady, she says, “I remember that she was in pain. I get reminded of her, often. I know she had permanent vision loss. I would feel really upset seeing her state and that nothing could be done about her cataract.”

She says, the facilities available for eye care when she was much younger, were sparse. “For a rural setup like mine, people faced issues to find healthcare services, let alone eye care services. Now, vision technicians and optometrists are available in those remote areas.”

Her Wish

“ Today, Tamanna has many important roles in her life –wife, mother, and now, an optometrist bringing eye care to women and children who never previously had access. “I want to take the learnings I have received from the Vision Technician’s course to greater heights. I want to use my skills to help people in need,” said Tamanna. "

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