15 November 2021GABORONE - Children in the Wilderness (CITW), in partnership with humanitarian Anton Poplett of 4x4OutFar, and his Global Vision team, recently visited six of the schools in the Tsholotsho region that CITW works with in Zimbabwe, 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 glasses. In addition to this 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 eyeglasses. This leaves many rural communities without access to basic spectacles – a 700-year-old commodity.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..“The first school always takes slightly longer, with arranging and finding our feet, sorting the kit out and teaching the partners. Thereafter it is a breeze, and this time only a handful of children needed extra attention. In total we provided eyeglasses for around 150 students, a few teachers, as well as one of the village headmen and his wife. Ultimately though, our pleasure comes from hearing the children’s joyful, giggling and laughter, regardless of their situation”, remarked Anton.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). The CITW team is now trained in how to conduct the basic eye-tests, and distribute eyeglasses within certain parameters.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 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 4x4 OutFar for making the time to come and do these tests, and we look forward to carrying on this testing in the future”, noted CITW Zambezi Programme Co-ordinator Sue Goatley in conclusion.ENDS.