There is an unequal distribution of eye care services worldwide and a systemic inattention by governments to recognise the importance of paediatric eye care and the devastating effect this has on a child’s normal development.

What motivates our focus on child eye health?

Left untreated in childhood, vision impairment can have long-lasting consequences including learning difficulties, reduced educational outcomes and employment opportunities and poor social interaction.

Myopia (short-sightedness) is the most common eye condition affecting children and is rapidly growing in prevalence across the world.1 In many developing communities eye care services do not exist or cannot be accessed. 

 For child eye health initiatives to be effective and sustainable it is critical for them to be integrated within existing health systems, school health programs and horizontally aligned with education and social development services.

Global research and evaluation

We commissioned a detailed series of reports on child eye health in low- and middle-income countries have provided a basis from which health, education and child welfare ministries, bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, health profession councils and other stakeholders, can address the key issues affecting vision in school children. 

Produced by researchers at Brien Holden Foundation, the reports were commissioned and supported by the World Bank under partner collaboration under the global initiative Our Children’s Vision.

Global figures and statistics ​

1.1 million children worldwide are irreversibly blind for the rest of their lives2,3 

An estimated 19 million children are vision impaired (12 million due to uncorrected refractive errors)4

Up to 60% of children die within a year of going blind5 

Global prevalence of childhood blindness may be as high as 1.5 per 1000 children5

What our child eye health programs focus on

We advocate for the need of child eye health services with peak international agencies, national governments and funding bodies.

We work with governments to integrate child eye health initiatives within existing health systems and school health programs and align them with education and social development services.

We work with governments to integrate child eye health initiatives within existing health systems and school health programs and align them with education and social development services.

We conduct programs that train health care workers and teachers to conduct vision screenings; sourcing reliable supplies of affordable spectacles, conducting eye examinations and dispensing spectacles; training other levels of personnel to custom make glasses and administer vision centres.

We undertake eye health awareness campaigns and work with children enabling them to be agents for change in their local communities

Reports

A Situational Analysis of Child Eye Health: A review of 43 Global Partnership for Education Member Countries 2016

Researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute conducted a situational analysis of child and adolescent eye health in 43 of the most marginalised countries in the world. The report establishes a baseline understanding of the context in those countries and will support efforts to promote child eye health policy and programs to address avoidable vision impairment.

Access to Eye Care Services for Children within the Education Sector: A Systematic Review in Low- and Middle-Income Countries 2018

The systematic review summarises the global evidence on the facilitators and barriers for children accessing eye health services within the education sector in low- and middle-income countries MICs, in order to provide global recommendations for more accessible services.

Spectacle compliance among schoolchildren in Malawi, Nigeria and Pakistan

There are 19 million children with vision impairment globally, 12 million of which is due to uncorrected refractive error. Although some school-based vision screening programs include spectacle provision, poor ‘compliance’ in wearing spectacles can reduce the effectiveness of this intervention. This longitudinal, observational study sought to determine the prevalence of uncorrected refractive and spectacle compliance among children and identify the barriers to compliance.

References

  1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, Wong TY, Naduvilath TJ, Resnikoff S, Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050, Ophthalmology, May 2016 Volume 123, Issue 5, Pages 1036–1042.
  2. Flaxman et al. Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990–2020: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Global Health. Published online October 11, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(17)30393-5
  3. World Health Organization. Visual impairment and blindness – Fact Sheet No. 282, (2012).
  4. Pascolini, D. & Mariotti, S. P. Global estimates of visual impairment: 2010. British Journal of Ophthalmology, doi:10.1136/
  5. World Health Organisation (2000) Preventing blindness in children. Report of a WHO/ IAPB scientific meeting.  Geneva: WHO. (WHO/PBL/00.77).

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Acknowledgement of Country

Brien Holden Foundation acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the many lands that we live and work on, and their continuing connection to Country and culture.

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