The country of India encompasses a total of 7 union territories and 29 states. It is the seventh largest country in the world by landmass and the second largest country by population with over 1.2 billion people. This is estimated at 16.1% of the world’s population. Therefore, the impact of the people in India can have a lasting effect on the rest of the world. More than 68% of the population within India lives in rural habitats.
Although healthcare in the country has started to improve over the last decade, there are still many that do not receive the care that is required to live a normal everyday life. The last five years have shown a 15% increase in healthcare and it is estimated to continue to grow as well. Although the healthcare system has grown in the country, the accessibility to it has still remained a problem.
Within healthcare in India, eye care has been an area of serious concern. One problem is the lack of access to obtain the care needed to prevent vision impairment. This in part has to do with the lack of the eye care professionals found within the country. It also has to do with cost. The third reasoning behind it is the lack of awareness and advocacy in the country showing the need for eye care. A majority of the vision impairment problems that exist across the country are preventable and could have been stopped with the correct care.
One of the first senses that a person uses when he or she is born is their sight. Eye care is essential in the modern world and the evolution of eye care is ever-growing. In India, there is a shortage of the ability to get proper eye care due to a shortage of eye care professionals. This reflects on the youth as they progress in school and can have a hindering effect. In the rural population of India, over 7% of the youth require glasses. With the growing young population of the country, the need for eye care professionals increases as well. The country shows a high rising number of visually impaired individuals in the world that could be easily avoided if proper eye care is available and accessible. This totals around 15 million inhabitants. Although this problems spans across the country, a majority of these cases exist in the rural district areas. India is home to the largest population of blind inhabitants in the world.
India was the first country to show the significance of cataracts in relation to blindness. It started a program that was spread nationally in 1976 to bring about awareness. It is estimated that there will continue to be a growth of the blind population in the country without further help. According to a study that was conducted by WHO, there are around 285 million people in the world that have problems with their vision. The study acknowledged a total of 39 million completely blind and 246 million with some kind of visual impairment. And a big percentage of these people live in India.
In India there is 1 ophthalmologist for every 90,000 inhabitants. This ratio, when measured against that in the United States, is very very low because in the United States, there is 1 ophthalmologist for every 15,800 inhabitants. The increase in the amount of visual impairment in India has caused other situations and problems to arise including the lack of productivity of the inhabitants leading to direct impact on the economy. It is estimated that out of all cases of blindness that are found India, 88.2% could have been prevented with correct eye care.
Regulations are soon to be enforced for the field of optometry within India which will help improve eye care. The World Health Organization has also founded a program called Vision 2020. It is a program involving different countries that are striving for the prevention of blindness and have set targets until the year 2020. Another program that has been enforced is the Global Action Plan, otherwise known as GAP. It is a program that has established workshops and institutions around the world to stop the growth of blindness.
The number of healthcare providers has been increasing consistently in India but of these, only 3% professionals are associated with eye care. Of these, only a fraction venture from the urban areas to the rural areas where they are most needed. Due to the inability to access proper eye care, many of the people who live in rural areas of India suffer from various visual problems including refractive blindness. It is estimated from research that there are around 800 different chains of optical establishments within India. The majority of these chains can be found in the cities of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Telangana, Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Mizoram, and Meghalaya.
India as a whole has an estimated 1280 hospitals that are related to eye care. A majority of these are found in the urban areas. These hospitals have approximately 49,000 eye care specialists with at least two-years of training. The need for eye care professionals is increasing with every passing year and it is estimated that the ideal number of eye care professionals required in India is 100,000 already.
One reason why India lacks the adequate number of eye care professionals is because India has few opportunities and avenues to study eye care at different levels of education. The lack of institutions to teach the techniques and skills needed to pursue a career in Ophthalmology has created a decrease in professionals. The institutions that are there are mainly found within Urban locations which are not easily accessible for students from rural areas.
Eye Care Professionals in India
Although there is a shortage of eye care professionals in India, there are good eye specialists that can be found throughout the country. These professionals have had remarkable careers and track records. These individuals have dedicated their careers to providing better eye care. Many of these professionals have published works and have been featured on television, newspapers and the internet.
With dedication and good governance, India could improve its eye care facilities and increase the number of eye care professionals in the coming years. Good eye care and preventative procedures can help the young and the old have better vision, which will improve the quality of life of millions of people in India.