Lyhour is a 14-year-old from Phnom Penh in Cambodia who attended a school screening program that visited his high school. The program was funded by Optometry Giving Sight and supported by the Brien Holden Foundation.
“About three years ago I started having trouble at school and at home being unable to see things clearly. Something changed in my eyes. I had to get very close to everything before it was easy for me to see,” Lyhour said.
“This made my life at school very hard especially as I got older and my vision got worse,” Lyhour explained. “I just wanted to be able to see like the other children in my class.”
Lyhour explained his excitement when he knew the school screening was coming to his school. He described thinking that maybe there was a new solution for his vision problem. “My life became happy again imagining that maybe I don’t have to spend my whole life not being able to see well,” he smiled.
“Today is one of the best days of my life. I can’t explain how I feel. I only have a wait a few more weeks now until my new glasses arrive and then my life will change forever. I’m so happy and excited. My sister wears glasses and is at university. I have always wanted glasses that help me see well, so I can join my sister at university after I leave school. Now I know my dreams will come true. Thank you so much for coming to my school,” Lyhour beamed.
Building capacity in Cambodia
The project in Cambodia has been designed with sustainable strategies and is delivering eye care in a comprehensive and effective way.
In providing capacity building in eye health screening, training has been conducted for 25 teachers from 15 schools in Phnom Penh, as well as for 10 staff members at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) School Health Department. Eye screening programs are developing in three schools. This will enable trained staff to be aware of eye problems and recognize them in students, teachers and staff. They now have the capacity to be involved in screening activities and refer students to appropriate services.
“I am really happy to be invited by the Brien Holden Foundation to attend the training,” said Vice School Director Mr. Srouch in Phnom Penh. “I think the course is really good and it has given me the skills to be aware of basic eye problems, what signs to look for and when a referral is needed, and I now know the appropriate places to refer the students to.”
This activity is in line with the action plan of the National Program for Eye Health/Ministry of Health to prevent blindness from refractive errors and provide low-vision services through routine screening of school children at secondary and high school levels. The model of screening developed with the MoEYS and teachers in this project can be used in other areas of Cambodia to meet the goals of the National Plan for the Prevention of Blindness.
School Vice Director Mr. Srouch also added that, “I now know with school screenings, I have the skills to identify students and teachers alike who have refractive error or other eye problems. They can then be referred and fitted with a correct pair of glasses. It is a social and charitable contribution to the community by the Foundation and their funding partner Optometry Giving Sight.”