To Make India’s Roads Safer, Vision Care Leaders Screening More than 1 Million Drivers and Transportation Workers

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Vision Care

VisionSpring, India Vision Institute, and Sightsavers India Announce 1 Million+ Vision Screenings for Drivers and Transportation Workers

New Delhi, 3rd March 2022:According to the World Bank, although India has only 1% of the world’s vehicles, 11% of the global deaths from road accidents occur in the country. One easy way to make roads safer is to address drivers’ vision impairment and today, three vision care leaders, VisionSpring, India Vision Institute and Sightsavers India, announced their completion of more than a million vision screenings of drivers and transportation workers.

Through their joint efforts to make India’s roads safer, more than one million truck, rideshare, and autorickshaw drivers have been screened for vision impairment and provided with on-the-spot access to eyeglasses.

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The potential impact of eyeglasses on road safety is significant. Ella Rain Gudwin, CEO of VisionSpring Global, shared that “in a study of 275 truck drivers who acquired their first pair of glasses through our ‘See to be Safe’ Program, VisionSpring found that one in four drivers did not meet the visual acuity requirements for their licensing. In other words, they could not see road signs and hazards just 20-30 meters away.”

Getting eyeglasses immediately onto the faces of the people who need them has been key to this project’s success. As per India Vision Institute CEO Vinod Daniel, “nearly 24% of unscreened drivers have explained it’s their lack of time that has prevented them from seeking eyecare previously,” another 25% said they were unaware they had vision problems altogether.

RN Mohanty, CEO of Sightsavers India pointed out that “road crashes claim 1.3 million lives each year globally,” and of those, “90% of deaths are in developing countries.”

The announcement follows the first-ever conference on vision and road safety recently co-hosted by VisionSpring, Sightsavers India, and India Vision Institute. While much attention is given to issues such as speeding, seatbelt use, and driving while intoxicated, eyeglasses are a simple and powerful tool to address road safety issues and vision care as a whole is an essential component to solving this problem.

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With more than one million vision screenings completed, VisionSpring, Sightsavers, and India Vision Institute have set an ambitious goal of completing another one million screenings of drivers and transportation workers by the end of 2025 in collaboration with a broad coalition of government and private partners.The organizations note that with additional collaborators they can grow their screenings beyond this goal, helping correct the vision of drivers throughout India and making roads significantly safer.

VisionSpring (www.visionspring.org) is a pioneering social organization creating access to eyeglasses for low-income adults and children. Annually in India, VisionSpring supports vision screening for more than 27 lakh (2.7 million) people and corrects the vision of more than 10 lakh (1 million) people with eyeglasses. On average, 73% of VisionSpring’s participants acquire their first-ever pair of eyeglasses through the See to Earn, See to Learn, and See to be Safe programs. To date, VisionSpring has distributed more than 50 lakh (5 million) pairs of corrective eyeglasses in India, creating more than Rs. 8,100 Crore ($1.08 billion) in economic impact for low-income households. 

The organization delivers on its eye health mission across 23 states, working with more than 500 hospitals/healthcare facilities and NGOs, 15 state governments and agencies, and 50 corporations/CSRs. VisionSpring has also responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with personal protective equipment, oxygen concentrators, and vaccination access and awareness. VisionSpring’s work has been covered in The New York Times | The Economist | Forbes | The Lancet | The Economic Times 

India Vision Institute (IVI) is an Indian non-profitnongovernment organization with a focus on providing the underprivileged access to vision screenings and a pair of glasses to those in need of one. Our mission is toaugment India’s Primary Eye Care Capacity through awareness generation, capacity building, leadership development and outreach.  As part of our approach to the demonstrated deficit in quality and number of optometrists, we have conducted some 300 capacity building workshops, 80 seminars, 53 research grants, 17 travel grants and 2 higher education scholarships benefitting around 7,000 optometry professionals, including practitioners, educators and students. IVI has collaborated with 45 institutes through our programs and has covered 20 states and three union territories. IVI’s awareness and advocacy activities, including Vision Walks (Walk in the Dark) across India, have assisted to drive our campaigns through raising awareness about eye health and vision care.

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Our vision screening programs have helped transform some 480,000 lives. In 1,600 vision screening programs across India, beneficiaries have included women, the transgender and weaving communities, stone cutters / sculptors, fishermen, among others. Our services are also delivered through a Vision Centre in Chennai and a mobile eye clinic. Vision and Road Safety is an important priority for us, and we work with corporates and organizations on screenings and provision of free spectacles for commercial vehicle drivers. Ongoing programs are benefiting some 90,000 drivers of trucks, buses and autos. 

Sightsavers India is a development organisation working to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for people with disability. Sightsavers’ work in India, which started in 1966, has supported the treatment of millions of people with eye disorders and brought eye services to some of the least served areas of the country. In addition, many thousands of people who are irreversibly blind have received rehabilitation and educational support to enable them to lead lives of independence and dignity. 

We are committed to building sustainable programme models, which have been endorsed and adopted by the government in our states of operation. Sightsavers focuses on collaborating with various departments of the state governments to scale up operations for Social Inclusion, Inclusive Education and Eye Health—our three core areas of work.   

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