Cambodia School Eye Health

SeakthyEvery day, my eyes were so sore

Aged 16, Seakthy wanted to excel at school but she couldn’t see things clearly. Without professional eye care she also wrongly believed that her condition was a normal vision development.

“I started having problems with my eyes when I was studying in grade five. I had headaches and my eyes started getting sore and I didn’t want to study anymore,” said Seakthy. “I was unhappy as my performance at school wasn’t good.”

As her conditioned worsened, Seakthy finally confided in her parents.

Fortunately, a School Eye Health Cambodian project was undertaken recently in Phnom Penh. Its aim was to contribute to the elimination of visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error in school children and teachers in Cambodia through the development and implementation of a comprehensive school eye health screening program.

The School Screening Project is funded by Optometry Giving Sight and BHVI. Implementing partners include BHVI, Royal Government of Cambodia Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), Department of School Health (DSH) and the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Education.

“My school principal and teachers announced that the Brien Holden Vision Institute, supported by Optometry Giving Sight, would be performing school screenings here,” said Seakthy. “I thought it is a good opportunity to get my eye tested. After the screening I received a pair of spectacles”.

SeakthySeakthy now wears her spectacles every day. “I cannot do anything without wearing them. I feel very fortunate that I got a free eye exam and spectacles. I can fully focus on my studying and now longer have headaches reading books.”

Seakthy’s studies have improved as well as her confidence to engage in life. “Because of my spectacles I am an outstanding student. I am good at Khmer and English literature and I am a Red Cross Youth representative for my high school. I am happy that I can participate in every activity I want as a result of having good vision. I give thanks to Optometry Giving Sight for supporting this screening activity in Cambodia through which I received a pair of spectacles.”

Overall, the project had 2 School Vision Screening trainings conducted with 30 participants, of whom 10 are MoEYS staff and 20 are teachers. 19,764 students and teachers received eye health screening and 2,225 spectacles were prescribed at 10 schools.

At these schools an awareness of eye health conditions and services presentations were conducted targeting MoEYS staff, school teachers, students and their families.

Since going through this experience Seakthy shares information with her friends, relatives and community about the importance of professional eye checks.

Photos courtesy: Brien Holden Vision Institute