Dean Walker, manager of the LDS Charities vision care initiative, visited India earlier this summer to meet with the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), an organization that has partnered with LDS Charities since 2007. So far, the two organizations have worked together to provide vision care to 160,000 patients in 38 centers sponsored by LDS Charities, including 15,150 patients who were prescribed eyeglasses and 9,400 patients who were referred to secondary and tertiary centers.
Dr. Gullapalli Rao, the chairman of the LV Prasad Eye Institute, said that the purpose of the organization is to provide “comprehensive eye care [that] encompasses prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of everything related to blindness and prevention of blindness.” This mission is especially important in India, which has the highest rate of blindness in the world.
The LVPEI model includes a large eye hospital (called the Centre of Excellence), secondary clinics, and tertiary clinics, as well as rural eye care centers located in communities that rarely have access to vision care. LVPEI selects local talent in these rural communities and trains them as vision technicians. Then the newly trained technicians return to their communities to run the rural vision centers.
One of the primary goals of LVPEI is to provide vision care to the poor of India, so their patients only pay what they are able. While the poor aren’t required to pay anything, those who have money for treatment are asked to make a donation to support others’ surgeries or treatments, which allows LVPEI to meet a much larger need than they would be able to otherwise.
On his recent visit, Walker visited LVPEI’s Centre of Excellence and opened three new rural vision centers. He said of the experience, “It is so exciting to see how a champion like Dr. Rao with his team at LVPEI can develop such a strong program to serve those in need of eye services. All get helped, [and] the poor who cannot help themselves are getting the proper care.” LDS Charities is grateful to be a part of this important work that helps those in such critical need.