New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) A vision screening programme in remote areas of Mizoram has benefited a large number of children from underprivileged background and plan is afoot to expand the programme, the NGO running it has said.

The India Vision Institute (IVI) in collaboration with a major eye glass maker has also distributed free spectacles to several children in these areas. “The vision screening program has worked to provide coverage to underprivileged children in Serchhip and Lunglei districts. Some 450 children found to have refractive errors in the districts are being provided free spectacles,” the IVI said in a statement.

The IVI is a not-for-profit registered trust focussed on supporting and promoting eye health awareness, research, education and technological development in Indian optometry to advance capacity in vision correction, and prevention of eye disease and blindness.

As part of the campaign, at Aijal Club in Aizawl recently, free spectacles were distributed to 30 children from Serchhip district, who were among those screened earlier by IVI in Serchhip and Lunglei. The remaining children were provided free spectacles at their respective schools in Serchhip and Lunglei on February 6 and 8, the NGO said.

Those present at the spectacles distribution included India’s Ambassador-designate to Azerbaijan and former Consul General in Sydney, B Vanlalvawna, and other senior officials of partnering agencies, the IVI said.

“The work of vision screening and provision of free spectacles by IVI is noteworthy. I am particularly happy that IVI screenings have touched lives of children in remote parts of Mizoram,” Vanlalvawna was quoted as saying in the statement.

A collaborative vision screening and free spectacles campaign has overall benefited over thousands of children in remote corners of Mizoram, the NGO claimed.

IVI CEO Vinod Daniel said plans are afoot for expansion of the campaign in the state. Recently, IVI launched a vision screening program for 4,500 children in Aizawl supported by Oil India Limited (OIL), he said.

“IVI will also screen vision of another 10,000 children in the state, making a total additional coverage of around 15,000 in the coming months, he said.

The screenings are organised in districts where they are needed the most. A study conducted in the state had estimated the prevalence of refractive error among children at more than 10 per cent, Daniel added.

Till date, the IVI has conducted 422 vision screening programs in and around Chennai and other cities in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Pondicherry, West Bengal, New Delhi, Haryana and Mizoram, the NGO said.

“Over 1,76,376 individuals from underprivileged communities (including over 1.28 lakh children) have been screened and free spectacles distributed to 22,813 individuals (including 11,984 children) as part of the programme,” it claimed.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.