Eye-Testing at Tsholotsho Schools, Hwange

Over three days in late September 2021, humanitarian Anton Poplett of 4x4OutFar, and his Global Vision team, in partnership with Children in the Wilderness (CITW), visited six of the schools in the Tsholotsho region that we work with, to carry out eye-test screening for students between the ages of 10 and 14 years. 

There are an estimated 2.5 billion people in the world living without access to prescription eyeglasses.  In addition to the fundamental impairment to quality of life, the impact of uncorrected refractive error (URE), also known as blurred vision, comes at a high cost, usually up to USD100 for a pair of specs.  This leaves many of the rural parts of the world without access to basic eyeglasses – a 700-year-old invention. 

By empowering existing networks, NGOs, and other government organisations to become dispensers of prescription glasses – in less than one day of training, using a first of its kind ‘self-refractive tool’ known as the USeeTM – more of the rural communities across the continent where the support is needed most are able to be reached. 

Anton uses the Global Vision 2020 Distribution system, which has been clinically trialled by Johns Hopkins University and the New England College of Optometry (NECO), and has proven to be effective in solving a lot of poor vision caused by refractive error.  It is also included on the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) Standards List. 

The system offers a quick and accurate way to test vision and dispense glasses within 10 minutes on site, with correctly-trained staff (training takes less than one day).  Our team is now trained in how to conduct the basic eye-tests, and distribute eyeglasses within certain parameters.

This is an important step towards ensuring an enabling learning environment for students.  The screening went exceptionally well, proving the majority of students to have good, strong eyesight.  The few who were found with minor issues were either presented with a pair of eyeglasses tailored to suit their needs, while anything more serious was referred to an on-site optometrist for further analysis. 

On behalf of the six schools – Kapane Primary, Kapane Secondary, Ngamo Primary, Ngamo Secondary, Sipepa High, and Ziga Primary – we sincerely thank Global Vision and 4×4 OutFar for making the time to come and do these tests, and we look forward to carrying on this testing in the future. 

Written by Brenda Finaughty, CITW Zambezi Environmental Education Co-ordinator

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