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Reaching people in isolated or rural environments has long been a challenge for health and vision care providers, not only in terms of awareness raising, but also in terms of accessibility. Essilor is deploying a range of mobile solutions that is putting vision on the map for rural communities.

Thanks to the pioneering work of a dedicated rural marketing division in India since 2006, 2.5 New Vision Generation (NVG) India has been able to fine-tune an inclusive business model for serving hard-to-reach communities. The solution: collaborating with local Eye Hospitals to run mobile refraction vans that travel to remote areas educating villagers about vision care.

The mobile refraction van service is a holistic approach that both raises awareness and brings the solution to people’s doorstep

The vans are equipped with optical instruments and lens-edging equipment to assess vision correction needs and ensure patients leave with a pair of glasses. It’s a holistic approach that both raises awareness and brings the solution to people’s doorstep.

Dr Aravind, from the Aravind Srinivasan Eye Hospital, explains: “We started the mobile refraction van service with Essilor in a remote location in the North of India. Managing the human and technical resources has been an issue, but the community there has embraced the project. We now have 3 vans that are helping us to give last-mile connectivity in the community. Learning from our experiences, we also use the vans for workplace camps and school screening programs to address the challenge of vision care awareness.”

We also use the vans for school screening programs to address the challenge of vision care awareness

In total, 15 specially equipped mobile refraction vans are operating with partners across under-served regions in India. Over 4,000 rural villages have already been visited, 500,000 people have been educated about vision health, and 130,000 eyeglasses have been dispensed. This successful experience is helping the development of similar programs for rural communities in China and other countries.

Another type of van is being used to spread awareness: the Anmol Aankhein (Precious Eyes) roadshow, that travels to villages where Eye Mitra Opticians have set up business to engage villagers about the importance of good vision. The van covers 4-5 locations in a day, attracting an average of 150 villagers at each stop. The pilot 30-day campaign covered approximately 100 small villages, sharing the importance of healthy vision with more than 40,000 people. Since March 2015, Anmol Aankhein has taken to the road on a full-time basis.