Update on Vision-Aid programs at work in Sankara Netralaya

In 2017, Vision-Aid entered into a partnership with Sankara Netralaya (SN), in Chennai India to establish a National Resource Center for the Visually Impaired. During the first phase of this project, Vision-Aid has been working closely with the Low Vision Clinic at SN to help bring affordable technology-based devices to its poorest segment of visually impaired patients. 

Sankara Nethralaya is one of the biggest eye care providers in India and has earned a respected and trusted name in the eye care service sector, for providing high quality eye care to all patients irrespective of their financial background. In addition to primary eye care, Sankara Nethralaya operates a large low vision clinic.  Around 400 patients visit their each month and several of these patients are in the “nonpaying” category because they cannot afford to pay for treatment.

All the patients who are referred to the low vision clinic have terminal vision conditions that cannot be cured or corrected. Sometimes, these conditions are progressive leading to total or significant loss of vision over time. 

Previously such patients got free care, but could not get free or subsidized devices due to the high cost. Since last year, the joint Vision Aid-Sankara Nethralaya program has distribute free and subsidized devices to hundreds of these non-paying patients. 

In addition to providing Sankara Nethralaya with financial support, Vision-Aid also provides low cost, technology-based solutions for patients with visual impairment, as well as know-how and expertise. Currently plans are underway to expand the work and establish the next phase of the 

resource center which will include training programs  in orientation and mobility (O&M), Computer training and counselling services. 

Vision-Aid’s low-cost digital magnifier (Lexington 32X), which is currently distributed to needy patients, via our partner networks for Rs. 500 (around $8) is a big hit with patients because of its power and efficacy. It is a pocket sized electronic device which can magnify print up to 32 times. Prior to this model, SN clinicians told us that comparable devices   costed over Rs. 10,000 on the lower end, with some models costing even more,  and were completely out of reach of  their poorer patients. 

All such devices and services which have a transformative impact on the lives of hundreds of visually impaired being served at SN and other locations across India, are made possible through the generous support of our donors and we gratefully thanks all our supporters for making this possible. 

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