Eye screenings supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation in seven Vietnamese orphanages have brought a ray of hope to some of the country’s most vulnerable children.
In Ho Chi Minh City, 881 orphans were tested recently for refractive error (the need for glasses). The mass screening occurs annually.
"Living without the support of family, these children are amongst the most vulnerable in Vietnam and life can be a struggle at the best of times," said The Foundation's CEO Brian Doolan.
"Eye conditions like short- and long-sightedness, blurred vision and focusing problems are an additional challenge for them to overcome. This can have a huge impact on their education and life outcomes."
The children at the orphanages range in age from one to 18 years old.
A team of 20 eye health workers from Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital, a Foundation partner, conducted the screenings, travelling from orphanage to orphanage with their microscopes and other diagnostic equipment.
As a result, 40 children with poor vision received free spectacles to assist with schoolwork and everyday activities. Other children were given vital medication to treat their eye conditions. Those with more complex conditions were referred to the eye hospital where they will have access to the full range of medical treatments.
"Fred Hollows set out to reach people who were blinded by poverty alone, and that is exactly what The Foundation is continuing to do," said Doolan. "Tragically, if not treated, some of these children will eventually go blind.
"Instead they will now have greater opportunities to learn at school, enjoy their childhood - and ultimately achieve independence as adults."
The Foundation's Vietnam program is one of our longest and most successful, with a strong focus on tackling childhood blindness. In 2010 alone, more than 340,000 school students in Vietnam were screened for refractive error and 4,779 pairs of free spectacles were distributed to poor children.
Learn more about our Vietnam program