Sightsavers partnership aims to improve global access to eye care

June 2023

Sightsavers has partnered with the Fred Hollows Foundation and PlenOptika to pilot a new vision care strategy that aims to revolutionise global eye services.

Worldwide, one billion people are thought to need prescription glasses. While the demand for eye care services is increasing, low and middle income countries have struggled to meet this need because of a lack of qualified eye health workers.

Led by Sightsavers and the Fred Hollows Foundation, the pilot programme in Sierra Leone and Nepal will combine the World Health Organization’s task reallocation and role optimisation strategy with innovative diagnostic technology developed by PlenOptika, making refractive error services more accessible and affordable.

The task reallocation and role optimisation strategy will efficiently use available resources by distributing tasks and responsibilities among community health workers, who can deliver vision tests in pharmacies and health care centres.

The programme will explore whether trained health workers can accurately and effectively screen for refractive errors at scale using handheld technology, which is currently underused due to lack of access and training.

The results of the pilot will help determine if the dual approach can become an integral part of eye health services anywhere in the world. It could help make eye health services and prescription glasses more accessible for billions of people worldwide, creating a ripple effect in society, improving education, economic and health outcomes.

A woman wearing glasses holds one hand over her right eye during an eye test.

What is refractive error?

Refractive errors are eye disorders caused by irregularity in the shape of the eye. This makes it difficult for the eyes to focus images clearly, and vision can become blurred and impaired.

About the condition

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