Shri Amitabh Bachchan has launched the next phase of his See Now campaign in over 30 districts across Uttar Pradesh to end avoidable blindness. He said,
“The single most important thing you can do for the future of your family, your community and your country, is to go and get your vision checked. Vision loss has an impact on your personal life, but it also impacts our economy. And the only way to ensure that you can see the future of your family and India, is to get your vision checked”
With 550 million Indians suffering from poor vision, the impacts to the Indian economy through lost productivity has been estimated in the tens of billions of dollars – with a more significant and direct impact occurring to the personal lives and families of those people.
The campaign, which is now in its second phase will be running from the 6th of February 2020 till 15th March 2020, during which implementation partners will be setting up 260 eye health centers in the form of general community camps as well as screening 50,000 school students.
The districts include, Saharanpur, Bijnor, Amroha (JP Nagar), Sambhal, Rampur, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Hardoi, Shajahanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Hamirpur, Mirzapur, Unnao, Fatehpur, Kasganj, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Allahabaad, Kaushambi, Banda, Chitrakoot, Mahoba, Pratapgarh, Raebareli, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lucknow, Agra, Mathura, Kanpur Nagar, Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Etawah, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Kannauj, Hardoi, Shajahanpur, Muzaffarnagar.
Residents in these districts are being informed and reached via different channels such as radio, television, billboards, social media, Whatsapp and door to door campaigning. The objective of the campaign is to highlight the importance of getting a regular vision check, and to breakdown myths and stigma around services and wearing glasses.
Shocking statistics around eye health care in India have set the stage for this much needed campaign. According to a survey, 53.2 crore people in India need vision correction, out of which only 17 crore people are able to access treatment.
Most of these impacted people come from the lowest strata of society. 80% of India’s population suffering from blindness come from rural areas where every 250,000 people have access to only one ophthalmologist. The differences in gender are also stark, 67% of total eye patients are women and they reach 40% fewer eye services than men.
Poor eye health also has a number of negative social and economic externalities that are often not accounted for –
- About half of Indian drivers have vision impairment which raises significant public safety concerns
- Women do not have equal access to eye health centres as compared to men and this has the potential to widen the gender gap in society
- Eye diseases are the second biggest factor in children’s reading and writing problems.
- Annual productivity took a hit of $37 billion due to eye diseases.
The first step towards lies in raising awareness on the issues around eye health care and the urgency associated with this. Amitabh Bachchan pledged his support to the campaign by urging people to get their eyes checked at registered camps and at government recognised centres. He himself wears eye-glasses and wants people to see him and be encouraged to use vision correction solutions such as spectacles.
The See Now Campaign is made possible thanks to a coalition of eye health organisations and funding from The Fred Hollows Foundation and Essilor.