If you imagine being blind, it’s easy to see how many issues you’d encounter on a day-to-day basis – suddenly, something as simple as getting to work would become an ordeal which would require much assistance and kindness from strangers to complete. But if you imagine what it’s like to be short sighted – well, you might already know. And it doesn’t seem like too big a deal, does it? But imagine that you’re growing up short sighted, in a country where corrective glasses are unaffordable or unobtainable, and suddenly it becomes a more serious issue. Things as simple as reading the board, studying texts or even having the confidence to raise a hand during class are seriously affected by short-sightedness.
And even here in the UK, children aren’t immune from the effects of poor vision – after all, if a teacher or parent doesn’t know what to look out for, it can take several years for a child to be diagnosed. Having poor vision can deeply affect a child’s confidence – and cause them to flounder, educationally. Experts estimate that as much as 80% of what children learn in school is presented visually – and if your child isn’t able to receive that information, your child will struggle. Children with poor vision avoid reading and near visual work, experience lowered ability to complete such work and experience discomfort, fatigue and shortened attention span. An undiagnosed eyesight problem can even lead to your child being misdiagnosed with issues such as ADHD.
Clearly, it is important for teachers in our schools to have awareness of the problems which poor vision can cause children – and for parents to ensure their children do not miss their routine eye tests. But in developing countries, the problem is even more serious. There are two million blind children living in India, and only 5% of them receive any form of education at all – which is especially tragic considering that up to 80% of blindness is curable or preventable. Blindness can be caused by something as simple as a vitamin deficiency – but it steals the future of these children from them. Fortunately, the plight of India’s children has not gone unnoticed – and a number of charities are working to eliminate preventable blindness on the subcontinent, which is home to between a quarter and a half of the entire world’s blind population.
Tech billionaire Tej Kohli (net worth: an estimated £4.5 billion) has made it his mission to eliminate preventable blindness by 2030, through his charity, Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, which has treated the vision of 57,8225 Indians to date. The entrepreneur is known for his philanthropic work and desire to foster and educate the next generation, and charitable endeavours from high net worth individuals like Tej Kohli can make a huge difference to the lives of children in need. But it’s incredibly important that we all take note of the causes of preventable blindness, and help to spread awareness of its implications on the education (and therefore future) of our children – whether here at home, or in developing countries, such as India.
There is nothing more important than ensuring that children have everything they need to get the very best start in life – and good vision plays a for greater role in that than you may have expected. So help to spread the word, and donate to eyesight charities when you get the chance – they really can change lives.