Women-Led Green Vision Centers: Brighter days ahead for Eti

Celebrated on March 8, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about gender discrimination. At Orbis, we recognize that blindness is a gender issue and are committed to alleviating unequal access to eye care. 112 million more women than men live with vision loss, including blindness.

Around the globe, women face additional barriers to accessing healthcare. Access to household finances and the ability to travel are often more difficult for women, alongside shouldering the vast majority of childcare and household responsibilities, making free time a scarce commodity.

Men also currently make up around 70% of all ophthalmologists globally, providing an extra barrier to access for women who, for cultural or other reasons, would be reluctant to seek care from a man.

To tackle these barriers, we’re spearheading projects like Women-Led Green Vision Centers in Bangladesh. The centers are designed to overcome many of these barriers – women will receive care from female health workers in their local communities without the need to travel long distances. The centers are even subsidized for those unable to afford the costs.

Eti had poor vision, headaches, and dizziness which affected her school studies

Eti is a school student from Chandpur District, Bangladesh, who recently visited the Shahrasti Women-Led Green Vision Center after months of headaches and dizziness. In the Shahrasti sub-district alone, it is estimated that more than 30,000 people are living with vision loss, and a further 3,000 living with blindness.

The sixth grader, who comes from a family with little money, struggled to see the board in the classroom and finish her homework.

But that all changed for the 14-year-old as one of the Women-Led Green Vision Centers opened close to her home. There, she was screened and diagnosed with refractive error and prescribed a free pair of glasses. Now, she can see clearly and the headaches are gone.

Eti tells us: “Other hospitals are far away from our house and traveling there costs a lot. But the vision center is just in our area and makes traveling to it easy on our pockets. I’m very happy with the fact that people of our area with vision problems are being treated at a very low cost.”

Eti's new glasses have transformed life at school!

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and our long history of working with partners in Bangladesh – enabling us to reach more women and girls with improved eye health services – Eti can continue her studies without difficulty.

Orbis has helped establish 36 community-based vision centers in Bangladesh, each one serving around 100,000 people. Four of these are Women-Led Green Vision Centers. With the help of Orbis supporters and partners in Bangladesh, we plan to develop a further 100 community-based vision centers and five more Women-Led Green Vision Centers.

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