Before any surgeries take place, be it at a regional hospital, or at an Outreach Microsurgical Eye Camp (OMEC), a rigorous screening effort is contingent – one that identifies severely underserved regions, and makes an attempt to reach out to marginalized communities.
Screening is a process which involves an ophthalmologist or an ophthalmic assistant performing a comprehensive eye examination. It involves three stages:
1. Visual Acuity Test:
A visual acuity test uses an eye chart to measure how well you can see letters or symbols from a distance. While the developed world uses letters, in the developing world, screening camps rely on symbols as many who arrive at the screening camp are not literate enough to read letters. The visual acuity test determines if the patient has clear vision, or if their eyes show signs of impairment.
2. Eye Examination:
Following the vision test, an ophthalmologist or an ophthalmic Assistant will conduct a comprehensive eye examination, and understand the reason for the patient’s visual impairment. The patient will have their eyes checked for issues such as cataracts. If the patient is suffering from cataracts, they will be invited for free surgery at a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation microsurgical camp.
Many times, when the screening team identifies a patient living with cataracts, despite offering free surgery, patients are hesitant due to fear of the operation. During such instances, a team member of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation will discuss the importance and the simplicity of the procedure with the patient, assuring them that the second chance to sight will be beneficial not only to the patient, but to their family as well.
The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation has an aspiration to screen one million people in the developing world to cure 300,000 – 500,000 of cataract blindness. This means, the team will have to set up thousands of screening camps. To identify as many patients living with cataract blindness, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation focuses on underserved areas, and targets marginalized communities when planning their screening camps -for example, regions which are geographically challenging for blind to traverse through, impoverished communities who cannot afford a simple eye test. Furthermore, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation lays a special emphasis on marginalized sections of society – in this instance women and children.
In June, 2022, as a part of its mission to screen one million, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation set up 16 screening camps in Bardiya District to cure an entire community of needless blindness. A total of 1,607 patients were screened, and 76 patients who were identified as living with needless blindness cured in June, 2022.
Check out out TikTok to see the screening camps in action!
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