Steering Change through Vision Van

Expanding the outreach to the remote communities, the vision van continues to steer change towards bringing quality eye health services closer to the people. The vision vans, also known as Drishti Saathi are equipped with state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment, staffed with professional qualified optometrists, opticians, among others.

The vision van deployed at C.L. Gupta Eye Institute, as part of the Orbis Comprehensive Childhood Blindness Project, has been going the distance bring eye health solutions within the community's reach. Let us trace its footprints of change with the people who make the wheels go round.

Satya Prakash, Outreach Manager, Vision Center / Field Manager, C. L. Gupta Eye Institute

When the COVID-19 pandemic halted the school screening processes, the use of the vision van evolved as a mobile vision center. We tried to identify and reach out to the areas with no or limited eye care services. Through the vision van, we provide confirmatory screening, slit lamp examination, spectacle booking and dispensing, and referrals. We largely use the following strategies to encourage people to come to the vision van – first, the community health workers conduct door-to-door eye screening and redirect the citizens in need to the vision van. Further, pamphlets are also distributed to create awareness and anticipation in the communities about a scheduled vision van camp.

Further, our outreach has also strengthened by the citizens acting as agents of change who spread the word about the services and importance of seeking eye care. Through the vision van, we are able to address the gap in both, awareness and financial need in availing eye health services.

Satya Prakash, Outreach Manager, Vision Center / Field Manager, C.L. Gupta Eye Institute

Dr. Ashi Khurana, Vice Chairman, C.L. Gupta Eye Institute

Our partnership with Orbis started in 2012 starting with quality management systems for the organization. The following year, we started our children’s eye care project including our outreach project. Orbis partnership has been instrumental in supporting us to expand our outreach to the communities. The vision van started as an experiment to study how the concept would work in the communities; the idea being to screen and dispense spectacles at the screening site to ensure that the citizens who had been screened and neglected to wear spectacles would be given spectacles right at the point of contact so that there is no gap, preventing dropouts, and further increasing uptake and compliance. The vision van plays the critical role of a mobile vision center – it is fitted with high end equipment like slit lamp, vision testing equipment, tonometer, strabismic testing equipment, etc.

The patients who are not able to travel to the vision center are screened just as they would be at a vision center, getting the facility right at their doorstep. Further, ensuring regular frequency of services helps people come to the van like they would to a fixed facility. Now, we are witnessing a gradual shift in the health seeking behavior of the community and their outlooks toward eye care.

Dr. Ashi Khurana, Vice Chairman, C.L. Gupta Eye Institute

Meenakshi Saini, Optometrist, C.L. Gupta Eye Institute

Being an optometrist and being part of the vision van gives me immense joy and satisfaction because we are making a difference in the lives of the people who don’t realize that there is a solution to their visual ailments. For instance, many people complain of having a blurred vision but are not aware that it could be indicative of cataract and that a treatment exists or what glaucoma is and how it can be managed with eye drops or surgery. People have never seen such a ‘hospital on wheels’ before, so their fascination also lures them to the van.

Meenakshi Saini, Optometrist, C.L. Gupta Eye Institute

Testimonial from the Community

My daughter was around three or four years old when we noticed her having difficulty in seeing clearly. She could barely see in the dark and used to touch and feel the objects to make her way through the house. I sensed something was wrong but for a very long time, I didn’t know how to help her or where and how to get her eyes checked. She had to drop out of her school due to her vision issues. Then few months ago, someone from my community informed me about the eye check up in the ‘bus’ and I took my daughter there for a check-up. She was referred to the [C. L. Gupta Eye Institute] hospital where she was diagnosed and operated on for cataract. She is eight years old now, and can see clearly. We are now trying to get her enrolled at school so she can continue her studies.

Over the past few months, the vision van has been instrumental in conducting over 8,000 screening, with close to 3,500 spectacle prescriptions, and nearly 2,700 patients referred to the base hospital. The vision continues to play a central role in strengthening community outreach by increasing accessibility.

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