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Children’s Eye Screening Programme

The Reiyukai Eiko Masunaga Eye Hospital (REMEH), occasionally conducts eyesight-screening clinics for school children in remote areas of Nepal. VBA now supports a programme with a target of 10,000 children who would be eligible for free eye testing and screening, followed by prescription spectacles or surgery as required.

An Interview with Dr Purnima Roy

Dr Roy has been practicing as an eye specialist for over 30 years. For the last 20 years, Dr Roy has worked in Sydney as a general Ophthalmologist, providing complete eye care for cataract, glaucoma, paediatric and retinal diseases. Every year for the past 15 years, Dr Roy has been performing charity eye camps in Rishikesh, India.

Q: What are the most common issues with vision in third world countries?
A: There are multiple causes of blindness in the world but reasons of blindness in the third world are many more and varied. The most common causes of blindness in adulthood and old age are:

  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes

Other causes for blindness include macular degeneration and various hereditary, congenital and nutritional deficiencies. The tropical and humid climate in that region also affects the eyes.

Q: Why are these issues so prevalent in third world?
A: Poverty is one of the main causes of blindness. Nutritional deficiencies due to the poverty in these regions, as well as a general lack of awareness also contributes to blindness.

Q: What is the surgical procedure and how long does it take?
A: The cataract surgery performed in the eye camp is exactly the same way it is performed in any Western country. We take all the precautions for sterilising the clinics, theatre and pre and post surgery areas.

The patients undergo a detailed assessment prior to surgery and all the presurgical check-ups are done. Good quality machines are used to remove the cataract, by phaco emulsification technique which is used in Australia. Patients have the cataract surgery with lens implantation by highly trained and experienced surgeons. The procedures take about half an hour including the preparation time to numb the eye.

How we started

Roslyn McLeod, the President of The Rotary Club of Sydney in 2011, asked Indy Singh to find a project that would build “international bridges of friendship”. Indy knew of the work of two Australian eye surgeons, Dr Jay Chandra and Dr Purnima Roy, in the small town of Rishikesh, in Northern India. They had travelled there, with a team of volunteers to conduct free eye surgery clinics for the desperately poor of the area.