The EyeCare Project began conducting regular eye screenings in schools in 2004, as part of the Project’s field mission throughout the regions of Armenia. Together, with the regional authorities, the Project selected schools to conduct eye screening among children in grades one through six. Public education classes were developed and oriented to children in grades five through seven.
School eye screening is the most important tool for the early detection and prevention of eye disorders among children. For some eye disorders, time is critical and early detection can be crucial in saving a child from severe visual impairment and possible blindness.
Corresponding with the eye screenings, the EyeCare Project offers public education courses to children to teach them about the anatomy of the eye, to learn about eye disorders, eye safety, to wear eyeglasses in case of need, to promote a healthy lifestyle and to encourage regular vision checkups. To date the Project has screened 160,000 schoolchildren and conducted public education lessons for 15,000 students.
The EyeCare Project has developed a number of age-specific tools, including puppet shows and pantomimes, electronic and print materials and brochures to make the educational and training sessions more interactive and fun for kids. The most recent product is an educational book, “Desunik’s Game of Sight,” which was written with input from primary school students and approved by the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science as an auxiliary material to be used in schools. The target audience for the book is children between the ages of eight and eleven.
Recently, the EyeCare Project, in cooperation with the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, has launched a pilot school screening survey with the use of innovative tools. The country-wide survey will provide prevalence data on the primary eye diseases and eye disorders among children ages six through fourteen.