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.
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.