India Vision Institute is doing a commendable job of increasing the number of eye-care practitioners and also creating awareness about eye-care among the common man
India Vision Institute (IVI) intends to reach out to a wider audience through its vision care initiatives for awareness, diagnosis and correction. IVI is an initiative of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney and L V Prasad Eye Institute of Hyderabad.
VisionPlus (VP): The number of educational institutes offering optometry courses are on the rise. What role does India Vision Institute (IVI) play in the current scenario?
Vinod Daniel (VD) – IVI is an initiative of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney and L V Prasad Eye Institute of Hyderabad. The institute is an independent registered trust and its vision is to act like a catalyst to help build an industry which has excellent eye-care facilities easily available to all, executes a high standard of eye-care education and achieve a state-of-the-art optometry. It also intends to achieve international leadership in cutting-edge vision care research and development, and a viable Indian vision and optical industry, which plays a substantial role in global eye-care.
VP – Please share some statistics and research on the status or on the need of vision care in India.
VD – India has one of the largest populations of blind and vision impaired individuals which comes up to approximately 131 million people. This statistic is counted as lost potential productivity as these individuals suffer from uncorrected refractive errors which can be treated with a simple pair of spectacles as prescribed by an optometrist. The impact of this lost productivity on the Indian economy is estimated to be around INR 187,000 crores or $34 billion per annum to INR 126,500 crores or $23 billion.
Published data suggests that Indians need to increase their awareness about the importance of routine eye examinations, which can help detect and correct such eye problems. Another major hindrance for inadequate access to basic eye care and refractive services is the shortage of trained personnel. To meet the existing demand, India needs 115,000 optometrists. However, currently, there are only 9,000 four-year trained optometrists and 40,000 two-year trained eye care personnel.
VP – What steps and procedures have been implemented by IVI to make a difference in the current scenario?
VD – Aksauhini, which is IVI’s 20 year all India strategic plan, lists down 16 strategic areas where optometry and eye care in India can be advanced. This includes awareness generation, human resource development, research promotion, development of educational materials, technological advancement and strategic involvement of the optical industry among others. IVI’s activities are centered around four main objectives. The first objective is to create an awareness about optometry as a health care profession and a viable career option by highlighting the important role played by optometrists in the prevention of blindness. The second step is to develop practitioners, educators and students in various specialty areas of optometry to improve upon the quality of human resources. The third objective is to initiate leadership development so that young and promising optometry professionals are groomed to develop leadership and management skills to take a leadership role in advancing optometry in India. The fourth and last stage is to promote research among optometry students through scholarships and grants which would help in generating new ideas and subsequently contribute to the growth of advanced knowledge in optometry.
VP – These initiatives of IVI seem to be directed towards the eyewear industry professionals, what about the common man? How does IVI benefit them?
VD – The IVI benefits the common man in several ways. The IVI initiatives create awareness about the importance of eye care and thus tries to prevent ‘avoidable’ blindness. IVI’s capacity building efforts for optometry practitioners lead to the development of quality optometry services, subsequently benefiting eye-care seekers. By raising awareness about optometry and work of optometrists. IVI provides the common man with a most viable option to meet their primary eye care needs without visiting the ophthalmologist or eye hospital, thus saving time and cost. The IVI initiative of promoting optometry as a viable career option is beneficial to students who seek a career choice.
VP – What are the programs and workshops organised by IVI? What purpose do they achieve?
VD – IVI has organised a wide range of specialty workshops for optometry practitioners,
educators and students of optometry. These workshops are aimed at improving the clinical and teaching capabilities of the respective cadre of professionals.
IVI initiatives under the aegis of the IVI Educators Academy are aimed at upgrading optometric educators, thereby strengthening the human resource. Notable among them is the state of art EyeTeach© program in collaboration with its parent body, the Brien Holden Vision Institute of Sydney. Faculty Support Program provides opportunity for practitioners to train at established optometry institutions. Seminars are also conducted through the online-platform for students and educators. IVI has also launched a Resource Platform for students and educators.
IVI offers tailor-made workshops for optometry practitioners as well. Most notably, IVI not only organises capacity building programs for the professionals in the organised sector but also for those in the unorganised sector, as they play a major role in the retail optical market in terms of number and reach.
The IVI Young Leaders Program, a major initiative in the area of optometry leadership development, enhances management and leadership abilities of the participants to enable them to take up a leadership role in developing optometry in India.
IVI’s awareness generation activities are aimed at promoting eye-care, promoting optometry as a profession and as a viable career option. The most notable among these was the launch of Ollie the Optometrist – the mascot for optometry and eye-care awareness in India through a mega awareness initiative featuring the famous Australian musical show Wizard of Oz.
VP – IVI also grants scholarships. What is the purpose of providing scholarships and how do you choose individuals for it?
VD – Promoting higher education and research in optometry is one of the strategic areas under Aksauhini, IVI’s long-term strategy. IVI offers scholarships and research grants with an aim to encourage increased high quality research in optometry. The scholarships and grants are offered at multiple levels starting from the undergraduate level to the PhD level.
The selection is done on a competitive basis through a system of application, review and personal interview, involving renowned national and international optometry and public health experts.
VP – Is there any message that IVI wants to give out to our readers?
VD – Optometry, a specialist independent profession, plays an important role in providing primary eye-care and preventing ‘avoidable’ blindness. An optometrist helps in changing the life of a person with refractive errors leading to increased productivity, by prescribing a pair of spectacles. Increased productivity of individuals leads to increased GDP for the country. Optometry is also a viable career option in primary health care for aspiring students. India has the potential to develop a robust and leading eye care or optical industry in the world. Upgraded optometry institutions and trained optometry faculty in India can cater to optometry students in the entire South Asia region as well as the world in the future.
VP – Thank you Mr Daniel for your valuable time