Vinod Daniel: A ‘visionary’ worker

Vinod Daniel and the NGO India Vision Institute are appealing for support to provide life-changing vision for the underprivileged in India

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“Imagine yourself as a 55-year-old, habitual of going about your day comfortably with a pair of spectacles improving your vision,” says Vinod Daniel.

“Think about every discomfort and trouble you would face if you removed the spectacles that sit on your nose. That’s exactly the life for a lot of Indians every day.”

Vinod Daniel is CEO and managing trustee of India Vision Institute, an NGO working to provide vision screening for the underprivileged, and free glasses to those in need.

That is more than 100 million Indians, or nearly 7% of the total population to be precise, Daniel elaborates, explaining the downward spiraling effect that poor vision has on the futures of school-aged children in corporation and tribal schools, besides underprivileged daily wagers, commercial drivers, weavers, trans-genders and even women who gradually lose out on the chance at a good life.

Vinod and his team at the NGO have been working for a decade to provide practical support to such affected sections. So far, they have conducted 1400+ eye screening camps in 22 Indian states (since they launched in 2012). After the screening, the team distributes a free pair of glasses for those who have been found to have refractive errors. The NGO has managed to help close to 500,000 people till date and has distributed almost 81,000 free corrective glasses to people with uncorrected refractive errors.

The IVI is a joint initiative of the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad and the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney.

Vinod Daniel in a tribal village. Image supplied
In a tribal village. Image supplied

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In its tenth year of operation, the IVI has launched two landmark programs in Chennai. Keeping its focus on transgender inclusion and gender equality, India Vision Institute is screening some 1,500 individuals from the transgender community and 10,000 underprivileged women in communities across Chennai.

“On our tenth anniversary, it is our endeavour to aim for a million screenings in the next year or so,” Daniel expresses.

Daniel, who is an Australian of Indian origin, is an international museum expert by profession and shuttles between India and Australia.

Besides on-ground practical support, the NGO is working equally hard with 100+ optometry institutes in the background to tap graduates who can bridge the demand-supply gap of specialists who can help the needy. The not-for-profit also conducts advocacy and awareness campaigns about the importance of regular eye check-ups.

Through all the years of hard work in this field, Daniel says it is the happiness that he sees in the eyes of the disadvantaged people after getting their vision corrected with a pair of glasses, that motivates him and his team to work harder.

One of the beneficiaries of the IVI’s vision screening program, Kanchana says, “I happened to see a van offering an eye check up on the way home from work. I got my eyes tested and was told I had poor vision. They provided me with glasses, and I can see a lot clearer now. I recommend this service to all people like me who do not get access to eyecare services”.

Another beneficiary, Chennai Corporation worker Vasantha, says, “Prior to getting vision screened, I found it next to impossible to see small objects. Moreover, I couldn’t afford a pair of glasses. Thanks to IVI for the free glasses, I am able to see better now”.

Seeking the support of the Australian-Indian communities for India Vision Institute, Daniel says, “It costs $1.80 to screen the eyes of a child in India, and probably about $5.50 dollars to do the same for an adult. If more people support our cause, it can accelerate our mission.”

You can provide support for:

  •  Vision screening of underprivileged children.
  •  Vision screening of underprivileged adults.
  •  Community awareness programs.
  •  Capacity building of eye care professionals.

You can find more details on the Indian Vision Institute website or via email at ivi@indiavisioninstitute.org

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