Standard Chartered Vietnam has pledged 1 million USD for a project to reduce preventable blindness in Vietnam in 2013-2016.

The information was announced at a ceremony to mark the World Sight Day in Hanoi on October 11.

The project, worth 1.3 million USD in total, is part of a global campaign “Seeing is Believing”, initiated by the bank.

It also constitutes the fifth phase of Standard Chartered-funded eye care programme in Vietnam , which started in 2004.

The project aims to improve eye care services and infrastructure for health care clinics in remote and mountainous areas to contribute to reducing preventable blindness in the country.

Fred Hollows foundation, a non-governmental organisation that involves in reducing preventable blindness, will contribute 20 percent to the project’s budget. It will be responsible for the implementation of the fifth phase.

In the fourth phase, from 2010-2012, more than 766,000 students in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have been provided with refractive error checks-up, and 14,695 pairs of spectacles have been given to disadvantaged students to help them gain correct eyesight.

Besides, 258 children from poor families have had their eyes saved by doctors from the Hanoi Eye Hospital .

At the ceremony, Director of the Hanoi Eye Hospital Vu Thi Thanh said vision-impaired people account for about 0.6 percent of Vietnam ’s population.

About 3 million children aged between 6 and 15 suffer from refraction errors with two third of them being short-sighted.

Hanoi in particular has 32,000 blind people and 30 percent of them lack basic knowledge on eye care.

Thanh further said that eye diseases among children and students are on the rise and cited Hanoi where about 25-30 percent of students are suffering from refraction errors.-VNA