Needless Blindness in the
DEVELOPING WORLD

Cataracts are the leading cause of needless blindness worldwide, accounting for more than 50% of the world’s forty million blind.

A majority of the world’s cataract blind lives in the developing world, and continue to live a life of needless blindness because they cannot afford or access surgery.

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. A cataract surgery costs as little as $50 per patient and surgery to cure a cataract can take just seven minutes. The ripple effect of curing blindness transforms the social and economic prospect of entire communities for the better.

Investment in curing needless blindness
can help reduce extreme poverty

The number one United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is to end extreme poverty everywhere.


A little less known fact is that needless blindness is both, a cause and consequence of extreme poverty.


According to a study published by The Lancet, investment in the cure of cataract blindness can allow people to increase their economic productivity by up to 1,500% of the cost of surgery during the first postoperative year itself. The study further suggests that “future work should focus on promoting the accessibility and quality of cataract surgery in developing countries”.

The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation is committed to both, and is working towards helping end extreme poverty by making quality cataract surgery accessible to as many people living with cataract blindness in the developing world.

The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation is committed to both, and is working towards helping end extreme poverty by making quality cataract surgery accessible to as many people living with cataract blindness in the developing world.

Blindness Prevention & Gender Inequality

While public health issues generally do not discriminate on the basis of gender, blindness, especially preventable blindness does.
  • 4 out of 5 women who are blind don’t need to be, and continue to live a life of needless blindness.
  • 90% of the world’s blind women live in poverty.

While public health issues generally do not discriminate on the basis of gender, blindness, especially preventable blindness does.

  • 4 out of 5 women who are blind don’t need to be, and continue to live a life of needless blindness.
  • 90% of the world’s blind women live in poverty.
  • 4 out of 5 women who are blind don’t need to be, and continue to live a life of needless blindness.
  • 90% of the world’s blind women live in poverty.

Why are women more unlikely to be cured of needless blindness?

While barriers differ across communities, the main reasons for inequitable access to eye health services between men and women have been attributed to family’s socio-economic status:


Lack of education: Lack of education implies that women aren’t privy to the information that their blindness can be cured.


Difficulty in accessing household finance: Women and their sight are treated as secondary citizens across several communities. In many instances, one will find households are willing to invest in the cure of the surgery of men owing to the fact they are the breadwinners, but not on women. Women, who are usually entrusted with the responsibilities of the household risk their physical health while performing household duties while being forced to live with preventable blindness.


Inability to travel: Across many communities, women are discouraged from travelling alone; therefore they are unable to reach out to hospitals, which are usually a long distance from their communities to avail eye health services.

What is the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation doing to reduce gender inequity
in communities living with needless blindness?

The Economic Cost of Preventable Blindness

  • Needless blindness is both, a cause and consequence of extreme poverty.
  • Blindness exacerbates poverty as people living with blindness are rendered unemployed owing to their disability. Already living a life of poverty, needless blindness in the developing world further pushes families into extreme poverty – owing to loss of income.
  • Furthermore, family members who have to take care of the needlessly blind often have to forfeit paid work, further pushing the family into extreme poverty.

A cataract surgery costs as little as $50 per patient and 
surgery to cure a cataract can take just seven minutes.

Investment in the cure of needless blindness in the developing world can prevent extreme poverty, and contributes directly to the number 1 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: No Poverty.
 
According to a study published by The Lancet, investment in the cure of cataract blindness can allow people to increase their economic productivity by up to 1,500% of the cost of surgery during the first postoperative year itself.
 

A cataract surgery costs as little as $50 per patient and

surgery to cure a cataract can take just seven minutes.

Investment in the cure of needless blindness in the developing world can prevent extreme poverty, and contributes directly to the number 1 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: No Poverty.

According to a study published by The Lancet, investment in the cure of cataract blindness can allow people to increase their economic productivity by up to 1,500% of the cost of surgery during the first postoperative year itself.

 

The Social Cost of Preventable Blindness

Very often, people living with needless blindness aren’t considered as an equal member of society, and have to experience discrimination in the form of social exclusion. Social exclusion implies that a blind person is not involved in household discussions; they are unable to participate in festivals and other joyous occasions, and are unable to meet with friends and other family members.

The needlessly blind are dependent upon another family member for basic needs including everyday simple tasks such as going to the toilet or fetching a glass of water. Sometimes, young children in a house with a patient living with needless blindness have to miss school to take care of the blind person.

The needlessly blind are dependent upon another family member for basic needs including everyday simple tasks such as going to the toilet or fetching a glass of water. Sometimes, young children in a house with a patient living with needless blindness have to miss school to take care of the blind person.

Needless Blindness in Children

According to the World Health Organisation, childhood cataract is one of the most important causes of blindness and severe visual impairment in children and is responsible for 5 – 20% of pediatric blindness worldwide.


It is estimated that 200,000 children worldwide are blind due to cataract, with a majority of them living in the developing world.


The prevalence of childhood cataracts is 1–15 cases per 10,000 live births in developing countries, which if left untreated, can lead to permanent blindness.

The foundation has committed to reverse at least 1,000 children of cataract blindness by 2026 in Nepal, and has plans to further accelerate its program on the prevention and cure of early childhood cataracts in other parts of the developing world.

The foundation has committed to reverse at least 1,000 children of cataract blindness by 2026 in Nepal, and has plans to further accelerate its program on the prevention and cure of early childhood cataracts in other parts of the developing world.