“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.
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.
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