Nuran Nahar Aktar provides sight-saving care at Char Alexander Women-led Green Vision Center in Bangladesh

Meet Nurun Nahar Aktar

Women-Led Green Vision Centres: Char Alexander Vision Centre

Globally, 112 million more women than men are living with vision loss, including blindness. Around the world, women face additional barriers to accessing healthcare that can vary from location to location.

These can include:

  • Access to household finances
  • Inability to travel and safety concerns - women often have fewer options for travel than men and are more vulnerable to unsafe situations away from home. Older women may require assistance, which low-income families cannot provide
  • Shouldering the vast majority of childcare and household responsibilities, making free time a scarce commodity
  • A lack of women eye health providers - for cultural or other reasons, women might not seek care from a male practitioner

Therefore, it’s vital that there are visible and accessible women delivering eye care to communities.

To help tackle these barriers, international we are collaborating with partners in Bangladesh to create Women-Led Green Vision Centres. These women-friendly, solar-powered centres are designed to remove obstacles, as well as ensure the lights stay on during power cuts.

A female patient receives an eye test from Nurun Nahar Aktar at Char Alexander Women-led Green Vision Center in Bangladesh

The facilities are run by mid-level ophthalmic personnel, which include ophthalmic assistants, optometrist, refractionists and vision technicians. Nurun Nahar Aktar is part of the team at Char Alexander Vision Centre in Lakshmipur. Being led by women, these centres make it easier for other women to seek care. They also empower women in the community through job creation and by increasing their financial independence.

Nurun said: "I have mostly female patients who often tell me they are happy to come here and find me. They feel very comfortable sharing their problems with me. We are also the only Vision Centre with an established breast-feeding corner.”

Nurun Nahar Aktar uses a slit lamp during an eye exam on a female patient at a women-led Green Vision Center in Bangladesh

The Women-Led Green Vision Centres are subsidised for those unable to afford care, ensuring women and girls without access to financial resources can still receive free or reduced-cost care. These Vision Centres are also community-based, which means women unable to travel long distances on their own (due to safety concerns or being time-poor) are still able to access care.

In addition, the centres are run on solar power, a solution that is environmentally friendly and helps to overcome challenges caused by frequent power outages, ensuring that eye care remains uninterrupted regardless of access to electricity.

Nurun explained: “In this area, there is no eye hospital within the radius of 70 to 80km. Our Vision Centre has modern equipment. This is also an electricity-scarce area, and prone to natural disasters, and we have electricity outages often. When the electricity is out, patients are deprived of medical services or have to wait for the electrics to come back on. But we have a solar power system installed so we don’t have any problems providing treatment. We can provide the right treatment at the right time, and a patient’s time is not wasted.”

Nurun began working at the Char Alexander Vision Centre in 2022 and takes pride in the impact she can have by providing eye care to her community and so many female patients.

She said: “Patients come here with many problems and if I find any critical patients among them, I offer them treatment through teleconsultation with a doctor at Mazharul Haque BNSB Eye Hospital. And if patients have even more severe problems such as cataracts or ocular injuries, I will refer them to this hospital for surgery.

Nurun continued: “If a world-renowned organisation like Orbis and Mazharul BNSB Eye hospital had not established this vision centre in this remote area, people of the remote areas would have been deprived of eye care.”

A young male patient discusses eye test results with Nurun Nahar Aktar at a Women-led Green Vision Center in Bangladesh

Each Women-Led Vision Centre handles eye screenings, refraction testing, spectacle distribution, teleconsultation, referrals, and follow-ups. For patients with conditions that require surgery, Nurun refers them to the Orbis supported partner hospital.

Orbis has helped establish 36 community-based vision centres in Bangladesh, each one serving around 100,000 people. Four of these are Women-Led Green Vision Centres. With the help of our supporters and partners in Bangladesh, we plan to develop a further 100 community-based vision centres and five additional Women-Led Green Vision Centres.

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