NPO to screen more than 300 children across Durban

BRIGHT Eyes Centre (BEC) for Visually Impaired Children will this week be providing more than 300 eye screenings to children across Durban.

The non profit organisation’s initiative, the Bheka Project, which launched last year, is a drive to screen school children across the province. The Bheka Project is a drive to ensure that children in vulnerable communities receive essential early intervention services and vision screenings from as early as six months old said Glenhills resident, Cathryn Aylett who works at the school.

“Through this project we aim to identify vision disorders early, facilitate the early intervention process allowing us to provide training to parents, caregivers and teachers on early intervention strategies to ensure optimal development in children with vision disorders. Thanks to a longstanding donor we are able to roll out a mass screening campaign in Eye Care Awareness month, screening over 300 children. Through early intervention we aim to reduce the number of children unable to access early childhood education due to vision loss or developmental delays as a result of lack of stimulation,” she said.

BEC has partnered with Peek A Vu, using a machine Plusoptix Vision Screener, which is used across 98 per cent of pediatric practices in Europe to conduct the eye screenings.

“On average, one in four children under age five and one in 20 children overall has an undetected vision disorder. Unless there is an obvious visual disorder, these vision disorders often go undetected. Affected children do not realise that their vision is compromised. This is because that is how they are accustomed to seeing the world.Even if they are aware, they often lack the ability to verbalise any difficulties they may be having.

“These vision disorders are then discovered when it is too late to aid the development of that child’s visual system. That’s why it is important that children have their eyes tested for Amblyogenic risk factors annually, from age one year onwards Bright Eyes Centre has identified various groups and organisations who are currently running early intervention projects in the underserviced areas of KwaZulu-Natal. We aim to establish a working relationship with communities providing annual screenings to vulnerable children ensuring that their eye health is maintained,” Aylett said.