A campaign called SEE NOW has been launched to help end avoidable blindness in Uttar Pradesh. The campaign has actor Amitabh Bachchan as its face and is expected to reach tens of millions of Indians with the message that they should go and get their vision checked. It is being funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation and in part by Essilor Vision Foundation, working in partnership with Sightsavers India and Vision2020 India, among others.

The campaign will deploy creative content across five districts – Unnao, Lucknow, Raebareli, Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur – via radio, television, print, social media, Whatsapp, and SMS. Information will be provided on eye-health issues, local services, and how to access them. The campaign includes an interactive call centre to allow people to locate their nearest Sightsavers eye camp or Eye Mitra Optician. If there is none in the vicinity, it will register the location to request for an eye camp. People can also put in a missed call to 9266 021 666 to hear a recorded message from Mr Bachchan and find out where their nearest eye-health service is located. Through partnership with Sightsavers and Essilor 2.5 NVG, the campaign has also profiled ‘eye heroes’ who work to restore vision and fit glasses.

A spokesperson from Sightsavers India informed CauseBecause that the eye-care services at camps are completely free and the campaign ensures that those unable to travel to the camps are provided the required transfer since many patients live in remote areas that are not well-connected with public transport. It may be noted that services at some of the partner services centres are subsidised instead of being free. Mr Bachchan is providing his services for free, as per the spokesperson.

To measure impact, the campaign will record the number of attendees/patients at camps, track the data of people who are given medicines and spectacles, and the number of cataract and other kinds of surgeries proposed and conducted. They will also measure the reach of the message on digital and social media channels along with missed-call and call-backs counts from call centres.

According to the organisations, the main solution for avoidable blindness is raising awareness about the importance of eye health and available services. The social impacts of vision loss can be understood in terms of the following points:

  • Almost half of all drivers having impaired vision, creating a public safety issue.
  • Women account for 67 per cent of vision problems, but are 40 per cent less likely to access services.
  • Vision impairment is the second highest risk factor for learning difficulties in children.
  • Poor vision accounts for $37 billion in lost annual productivity.

In a press release shared with CB, Amitabh Bachchan said: ‘Vision problems are extremely common in India. Currently about 550 million Indians have serious vision problems which affect their families, their work and their quality of life. The basic lack of understanding and awareness of how eye health works leads to stigma around simple and easy treatments. People are often not aware of the availability in their area of quality eye-care services. It really is very simple to avoid a lot of different sorts of blindness by preventative care.’

‘The See Now campaign is much needed to generate awareness amongst the masses to simply go and get their eyesight checked as over 75% of blindness is preventable,’ said RN Mohanty, CEO, Sightsavers India.