Volunteer work

Sightsavers Discovery Improves Learning for School Children

When seeking solutions to multifaceted problems, it is easy to miss the most obvious answers. Sightsavers workers saw this first hand while assisting children in Cambodia. Not only were these children struggling to learn in school, but they were also struggling to see what they needed to learn.


According to recent findings, approximately 19 million school-aged children suffer from Uncorrected Refractive Error also called URE. The eye disorder causes blurred vision because the eye is unable to focus. Usually, the child struggles with either close or far away sight. Both distance and close-up vision are essential to success in a classroom setting, so it is easy to see why learning with undetected and untreated URE is difficult.


A simple eye exam can detect URE, and a pair of prescription glasses allows these children to see clearly. When wearing glasses, kids could see and therefore, could learn. Their educational experience and future changed dramatically with a quick exam and glasses.


The problem of URE is not just a Cambodian issue. Large numbers of children and adults in developing nations struggle with vision problems related to URE. While administering routine eye exams and giving children eyewear are relatively inexpensive, creating a reliable system to make this happen is often the stumbling block that prevents delivering the care.


Supply and demand take a significant toll on coordinating efforts to screen the children. In many areas, trained medical professionals are scarce and often limited to larger cities. Additionally, coordinating efforts of various organizations can be difficult. Organizations like Sightsavers understand what actions are necessary to curb the problem of impaired vision.


As an answer to the supply and demand problem, Sightsavers teamed with the Partnership for Child Development and the World Bank to create the School Health Integrated Program. This program sends health professionals to schools rather than forcing the kids to go to health providers. Sending health care to the schools is a successful way to screen children for vision and other health problems. Scheduling these visits promotes stability and allows rechecks on children when necessary. Nutrition is also a part of the program that addresses critical facets of childhood health and wellness. Additionally, teachers learn more about nutrition and health screenings. Teacher education helps to safeguard the wellbeing of the kids in school.


Sightsavers is building a strong foundation of health and wellness with their screenings as well as pinpointing and meeting many needs.