An estimated 1.4 million children in the world are blind. Three-quarters of them live in the poorest regions of Asia and Africa, most lacking access to treatment for often easily-treatable conditions. Half of all cases of refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) in the world remain undetected and untreated; this lack of treatment for these easily-correctable disorders is the leading cause of blindness in children.
This devastating consequence—along with the severe harm that vision problems and blindness in children can do to a child’s development—is why LCIF and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care have been collaborating to treat millions of children since 2002 through Sight for Kids (SFK), a program that provides vision screenings, eyeglasses, other treatments and eye health education for children.
Focused on serving Asia, Sight for Kids has screened more than 17 million children over the past 10 years in Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the Philippines for refractive error and other vision problems.
A hands-on team effort, the screenings are coordinated by local Lions, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (JJVC) staff and local medical personnel. By training more than 110,000 Lions volunteers and school teachers to screen children’s vision, Sight for Kids has been able to work with more than 26,000 schools to identify and correct visual errors in schoolchildren.
Of the 17 million children screened, nearly 600,000 have been referred to physicians for further evaluation, more than 163,000 have received glasses and more than 76,000 have been treated for various eye conditions.
Since the program began, Johnson & Johnson has committed US$2 million to fund Sight for Kids vision screenings in areas of need.
“Sight for Kids has grown exponentially in its first 10 years and is evidence of the progress that a true collaboration can achieve,” said Thibaut Mongon, President, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Asia Pacific. “The program’s focused mission to lift the barrier of access to vision screening makes life-altering differences for children in underserved areas – and this is astounding progress for such a relatively young program.”
In October 2012, LCIF and JJVC joined together in Thailand to celebrate 10 years of partnership on the 14th annual World Sight Day. During the anniversary year, Sight for Kids partners celebrated accomplishments and also focused on the program’s potential and a new decade of efforts.
Find out more about the problem of uncorrected refractive error, the leading cause of blindness in children and adolescents, and how LCIF is addressing this issue.