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Sightsavers Reports

Bringing eye health into the classroom

Zahra has her eyes examined.

“I would encourage all girls who have weak eyesight to wear glasses, because if this issue is left untreated, our eyesight will deteriorate.”

Zahra is one of the children who has benefitted from the Sightsavers-supported School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP) project, which helps children across Pakistan to see and learn.

The programme, which launched in 2018, brings eye health into classrooms: teachers are trained to check students’ eyes and identify eye conditions such as refractive errors. Teachers can refer children with vision problems to mobile eye specialists, who can carry out further tests, provide free spectacles and arrange treatment for those who need it.

Thousands of students across Pakistan have now been screened through SHIP.

Zahra stands outside and does a vision test.

Fourteen-year-old Zahra enjoys baking, painting and going to school. But two years ago, she began experiencing headaches and her eyesight began to deteriorate.

At the same time, there was an immense loss in her family when her father and her grandmother passed away.

With the amount of pressure her family was under, Zahra decided to not tell her family about her poor eyesight. Instead, she continued to struggle in silence, which caused her to fall behind at school and her grades began to suffer.

Zahra sits with her mother Zahida and rests her head on her mother's shoulder.

“Everything stopped. Our restaurant closed, then Zahra’s grandmother died and one of her uncles developed kidney failure.”

Zahra sits with her mother Zahida and rests her head on her mother's shoulder.

Zahra’s mother, Zahida (left)

Then Zahra’s teacher told her about the SHIP programme: through the initiative, she had her eyes examined and was given a pair of glasses to correct her vision. This helped to transform her life.

Now wearing her glasses, Zahra can see the blackboard again and doesn’t have to rely on her friends for help. She says her glasses have given her more independence at school.

“Before, I used to ask them to help me. Now I can see the chalkboard clearly. My glasses have been a very positive addition to my life.”


All images © Sightsavers/Jamshyd Masud

School student Zahra in the corridor at school. She's smiling and wearing a white headscarf and bright blue shirt.

With her vision corrected and headaches gone, Zahra is now thriving and can continue doing the things she loves.

School student Zahra in the corridor at school. She's smiling and wearing a white headscarf and bright blue shirt.

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in a year, could screen 36 school children for a range of eye conditions.

in a year, could provide 133 courses of eye ointment to treat active trachoma infections.

in a year, could provide 83 adult cataract lenses for cataract surgery.

£
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could screen 15 school children for a range of eye conditions.

could provide 100 people with a course of eye ointment to treat an active trachoma infection.

could provide 57 adult cataract lenses for cataract surgery.

£
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is £2
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over £10,000