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Sightsavers Reports

How glasses can help break the poverty cycle

September 2017

Do you remember how old you were when you had your first eye test?

Maybe you were at school, or even younger if your parents realised you needed glasses sooner than that. But mostly, do you remember how easy it was to get glasses if you needed them? A lot of us here at Sightsavers do.

Sadly this is not a possibility for thousands of people living in countries that experience extreme poverty. For children such as Riya, something as simple as a pair of glasses can mean the difference between a brighter future, and one where she’ll be trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Correcting refractive error (also known as short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism) is so important to Sightsavers’ work. It means we can take big steps in breaking this cycle for children such as Riya.

Riya struggled at school in India

Nine-year-old Riya first noticed she had a problem with her eyes when she struggled to see the blackboard at school. She would try so hard to see that her eyes would water, making it difficult for her to follow the teacher, and she started to fall behind in class.

“I felt bad as I couldn’t see what the teacher was writing on the board,” she says. “I couldn’t keep up with the other children.”

As her vision worsened, life got harder for Riya. She stopped going outside to play with her friends, scared that she would hurt herself. They began to tease her. “They called me a bad girl,” she says.

Riya, who lives in Patna, India, with her aunt and grandmother, didn’t know she needed glasses. Her grandmother would tell her that she just had weak eyes, and that it would soon correct itself.

The solution is so simple and can be life-changing. For less than £5, you can provide an eye screening and a pair of brand new glasses for a child like Riya.

Riya was one of the lucky ones

Thanks to the support of people like you, Riya’s teacher received training that enabled him to screen all the children in his class for several eye health issues, one of which was refractive error.

We were able to visit Riya when she had her glasses fitted at school and the difference in her was immediate. She began to smile and glance around excitedly, finally seeing the world around her clearly.

Riya has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now, with her new glasses, she is one step closer to reaching her goal. “Education is important to me,” she explains. “I want to become a doctor – I want to serve the people.”

It’s thanks to donations from our generous supporters that we’re able to continue saving the sight of children like Riya.

You can help more children like Riya

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