“LOOKING INTO YOUR EYES”
Through our local “Looking into your Eyes” Programme we offer optical care to boys and girls living in poverty, seeking to guarantee and track their visual health to avoid school failure and improve quality of life.
What we aim to offer is integrated eye care, to achieve which we have joined forces with other organisations to treat disease, offer ocular therapy or, if necessary, surgical operations, all completely free of charge.
Our “Looking into your Eyes” Programme has been operating since May 2016 through the Catalan network of Centres Oberts de Catalunya, attended by children referred by the local social services.
Over the course of the school year we see the children at the centres, after the end of the school day, and are assisted by supporting optometrists, student volunteers from the Terrassa Faculty of Optometry and volunteers from Etnia Barcelona.
If the children need prescription glasses, we test their eyes and, with the correct prescription, provide them with the glasses they need completely free of charge.
To deliver the glasses, we contact opticians near to the respective centres and call for their cooperation to mount the lenses and deliver the glasses to the children.
By operating in this way, we also provide the family with a point of contact and if, at any time, the child were to break their glasses or have any problems, they are able to go to the supporting optician, who has been provided by the foundation with all the tools needed to be able to help the child and guarantee the continued use of the glasses.
If some other form of treatment were necessary, the foundation also offers the following services to the families, completely free of charge.
- Visual therapy.
- Convergence eye exercises.
- Ophthalmological services at the IMO Centre
- Surgical operations (IMO, BARRAQUER)
In 2017 we visited 17 centres in Barcelona and surrounding Municipalities (L´Eixample, Carmel, Zona Franca, Esplugues de Llobregat, Raval, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Poble Sec, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Poble Nou)
We saw a total of 745 children.
We provided 320 pairs of prescription glasses, that is, virtually 45% of the children seen, of which 32% had never previously had an eye test. The average age of the children was 9.5 years.
This underscores just how necessary our monthly intervention in the different districts of Barcelona and Municipalities of Catalonia is for these children. In many cases we have encountered teenagers who have never had their eyes tested before, even though they may badly need prescription glasses. If it were not for our programme, the chances are they would never have gone to see anybody about their eyesight.
Participants: For the purposes of this project, we have joined forces with two other important organisations with extensive experience in the optical sector:
The Terrassa University Centre for Eye Care, the University Clinic run by the Terrassa School of Optics and Optometry (FOOT). Its mission: to stand as a reference centre for quality eye care, pursuing academic excellence in both its teaching and research work. Amongst its goals we find the establishment of links with society to enhance the perception of the social function of the University.
And, Vision for Life de Essilor, a philanthropic programme aimed at helping accelerate initiatives which seek to reduce visual deficits through awareness, enablement and the creation of basic eye care infrastructure. The programme is run by ESSILOR as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. The mission statement of ESSILOR is “Improving eyesight to improve lives”.
And, of course, all the supporting opticians who have heeded our call to join the project.
EXPEDITION TO SAHARA REFUGEE CAMP – VISUAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN
In March we were invited to take part in this expedition by the Department of Solidarity and Cooperation of Sant Vicenç dels Horts Town Council and the Association, “Sant Vicenç dels Horts amb el Sàhara”.
The purpose of the trip was to see, in the field, the projects that have been running for over 15 years now with the aid of Sant Vicenç dels Horts Town Council Department of Support to the Sahara.
It was our first visit to the camps. Our goal was twofold:
– Carry out a campaign of eye tests.
– Determine the visual needs of the Saharawi people and help them recover full visual health.
We tested the eyes of 450 primary school boys and girls (6-12 years old) from the Mahfud School at Wilaya de Bojador.
We found 20 cases in need of prescription glasses.
We found the general visual health of the children at the school very good. We saw few with any visual deficiencies.
In this case, the technical manager of Òptica Andorrana, Alejandro Fermoselle, accompanied us as our professional optician while, on the ground, we had the team from the Saharawi Ophthalmological Hospital, comprising 2 ophthalmologists and 2 technicians.
We observed several essential needs:
– A need for general optometric material, such as instruments, frames, ophthalmic lenses, cases.
– Optometric training for the Saharawi optical team.
At the end of the year we shipped out 6,000 prescription frames to them.
The project is designed to be on-going, not a one-off or sporadic initiative. Thus we believe it essential to count on the support and commitment of our local counterparts. To such ends we have scheduled an encounter with the team of ophthalmologists and technicians.
GUINEA BISSAU- INGORÉ
For the first time we travelled to Guinea Bissau, to the town of Ingoré, to be precise, for a campaign of eye testing at the local schools. Our aim was to assess the visual needs of the country.
Associació Mirades led the project in coordination with the District Sub-delegation for Regional Education, it was agreed that the work should be carried out at the two main state schools of the town.
There are several conclusions to be drawn from the work done. The state of the visual health of the children at the local schools if very good given that we found very few cases with visual deficits or more serious conditions. We found a total of 31 cases in need of prescription glasses, after testing the eyesight of 1,000 children.
However, and as one would expect, adults over the age of 35 present a higher need for visual aids. In all, it was a highly positive experience as we checked the eyesight of almost 1,000 children who had never had their eyes tested before.
UNIVERSAL AND OCULAR HEALTH PROJECT IN DAR SALAM: DIALOKOTO, SENEGAL
Once again, our visual health programme travelled to the rural zone of Dialokoto, to support and enhance the Universal Health Project under way there.
We carried out 650 eye tests at 5 primary schools, seeing children aged between 6 and 12 years of age, as well as the patients we had seen the previous year.
Overall, we found the results highly positive, particularly amongst the schoolchildren. We found few cases requiring prescription glasses and no case of serious disease. We found a total of 58 children in need of prescription glasses.
For the next expedition, in 2018, we are considering carrying out eye tests at secondary schools to see if the situation is as positive amongst teenagers as amongst primary schoolchildren, since we did find a far greater need for corrective measures amongst the adults seen.
The Visual Health Programme falls under the general umbrella of the Universal Health Project started by Asociación de Cooperación Fallou ONGD for the Rural Community of Dialokoto. The aim of the Project is to set up a local Health Cooperative, financed by a Local Contribution System, to offer the local community a small scale Universal Healthcare System which will guarantee access to an efficient, top quality “Primary Care Centre” for the whole population.
Participants: Viladecans Town Hall, which financed the expedition, the NGO FALLOU, ESSILOR-SIVO-SENEGAL, which donated all the prescription lenses needed.
EXPEDITIONS AND PROJECTS WHERE WE DO NOT JOIN WITH FIELD VISITS BUT WITH WHICH WE COLLABORATE ACTIVELY AND ON AN ON-GOING BASIS
THE EYES OF SENEGAL
This is the third year in which we have collaborated with the donation of frames to Associació Mirades and Associació Gesta-Àfrica for their expeditions to schools in Senegal to detect and correct the visual problems suffered by boys and girls of school age in Senegal.
This year the expedition was to Guinguinéo, in the region of Kaolack, Senegal.
The eyesight of 400 children was tested and 69 were found to need prescription glasses
The project is led by Associació Mirades, a not for profit association specialising in optometry. Its goal is to eradicate all avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refractive defects. It was established in 2013.
OPEN YOUR EYES
In 2017, Open Your Eyes, a not for profit organisation which works to improve the quality of the sight of people with intellectual disabilities and disadvantaged groups, organised an expedition to Turkana, Kenya, in February to test the eyesight of minors with low visual capacity at a school of 1,600 children. They also gave eye tests to the adult population and operated on 100 eyes with cataracts.
And, in October, Open Your Eyes also organised an expedition to Teruel, with over 80 professionals from all over Spain, to give eye, hearing and visual health tests to people suffering some form of disability.
After testing, if some sort of visual deficiency was detected, the person went straight on to pick out the frames they liked best. Within one month they received their prescription glasses, completely free of charge
Both expeditions were a great success.
The Foundation has collaborated with the project for the last two years, with the donation of sunglasses and, as long as they need us, we intend to continue to do so. We fully support and have total faith in both their project and mission.
Kenya: donation of 300 pairs of sunglasses.
Teruel: 500 prescription glasses
DONATION OF FRAMES TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS.
Donations of frames to other organisations organising projects with which we identify, similar to those in which we engage.
- 6,052 prescription glasses – Tindouf Refugee Camp
- 200 prescription frames – IMO (Institute of Ocular Microsurgery). The donation was to the organisation’s foundation with which we also have ongoing projects in the area of “visual health”
- 30 children’s frames – Barcelona Institut Joan Brossa, to support their social programme.
- 670 prescription frames – Optical Institute for the Italian Region of Emilia, Italy
- 60 prescription frames – Optica Feliu- Visual Health project in Ethiopia.
- This year we donated a total 9,094 sunglasses and prescription frames.
- We saw a total of 2,700 people (mostly children).
- We delivered a total of 528 prescription glasses to children of school age.