Addressing the Myopia of Mind


Dr Doris K Macharia, Senior Vice President of Global Programs, Orbis & Dr Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director – India, Orbis

An inevitable deluge that consumes our lives is the myopic mindset about the importance of eye health. Often, it is the stigmas and stereotypes attached with eye conditions that prevent people from promptly seeking treatment. However, many times, it is the lack of access and resources that pose a barrier to people who need eye health services. Additionally, there is a general lack of awareness about the conditions and their possible solutions, that can lead to vision impairment and blindness.

Uncorrected Refractive Error (URE) remains one of the leading causes of visual impairment, and comprises of four conditions namely, near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. It is important to note that of these, myopia (near-sightedness) is projected to affect nearly 50% of the world’s population by the year 2050. Moreover, with the increasing exposure to digital devices and poor lifestyle choices, myopia is emerging as a major public health concern. Prescription eyeglasses are a simple and effective way of addressing most of the myopia cases. If left unchecked, myopia can lead to blindness, impacting the social, economic, and psychological well-being of an individual: keeping them from realizing their full potential. However, timely detection and intervention can help prevent, stop or slow down the progression of myopia.

Bridging this gap of awareness, access, and acceptance of eye health services, Orbis has been working extensively for over two decades in India, to empower people to seek early diagnosis and treatment and transform their lives. With our network of partners across the country, Orbis has been quite active towards establishing and transforming pediatric ophthalmology as a subspecialty in India, with 34 Children’s Eye Centers, strengthening institutional quality of service delivery, and supporting free/subsidised treatment for children with refractive errors and other eye conditions. By bringing eye health awareness and services for children, the Refractive Error Among Children (REACH) initiative is aimed at reducing visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error among school-aged children. Through this initiative, over five million children across the country have been screened for various eye conditions, offered treatment and support. Moreover, at Orbis, we also strive to ensure that the insights gathered through REACH and other eye health interventions, expand the research evidence base and improve program design and delivery.

IAPB’s 2023 theme of Love Your Eyes at Work goes the extra mile of highlighting the importance of eye health and safety measures that should be taken in the workplace to prevent myopia and other eye conditions.

Sanskruti, a young student from Maharashtra was identified with refractive error during a school screening. Her world seemed blurry, and it was affecting her academics and daily activities. Through the school screening, she was referred to a Green Vision Center, where, on further evaluation, she was prescribed with a pair of spectacles. “They showed me lots of different colored glasses. It felt good. I chose the black ones as I liked them the most. It was perfect!” she rejoiced! Now, with her ambitions and vision clear, she aspires to study well and become an IPS Officer.

By putting training and capacity building at the fore front, Orbis is also working with its partners to build capacity in the domain of eye health and patient communication. Through Cybersight (Orbis’ telemedicine platform), two Digital Training Hubs and two Regional Training Centers for Patient Communication, we aim to sustainably foster a cadre of well trained eye health practitioners.


“The training helped me to sharpen my skills and presented me with opportunities to gain valuable knowledge and experience in the rapidly evolving field of Ophthalmology!” says Dr Priyanka, one of the trainees at our partner hospital.

Operating at the intersection of sustainability, technology, and access to eye care services, Orbis, and its partners, are bringing services closer to communities through environmentally friendly approaches such as solar powered Green Vision Centers equipped with digital data management systems and e-bikes for green community outreach. The vision centers are also enabled with tele-ophthalmology ability to facilitate video consultations for the remote and hard-to-reach communities.

Our global strategic vision of delivering people centered eye care is built on a foundation of strategic partnerships, collaboration, and collective action. Orbis is committed to forging new futures full of possibilities by enabling equitable access to eye health services, improving the lives of community members, and Changing the Way the World Sees!

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