What are cataracts?
Cataracts are a common eye condition characterised by the clouding of the lens, which can result in the formation of cloudy patches and lead to blindness. Several factors can contribute to cataract development, such as ageing, diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, previous eye injuries or inflammation, previous eye surgeries, prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and potentially altitude.
What do we know about cataracts?
Cataract blindness is a prevalent issue that affects millions of people across the globe. As per the World Health Organisation, 50% of the total forty million blind people suffer from cataracts.
Unfortunately, the majority of these individuals live in developing countries where treatment is neither affordable nor accessible, leading them to live their lives suffering from needless blindness. However, the good news is that 80% of visual impairments can be prevented or cured. This fact highlights an opportunity to transform the social and economic prospects of entire communities in developing countries.
We can help make a significant change by offering cost-effective and quick solutions such as cataract surgeries that can cost as little as $50 per patient and can be completed in just seven minutes.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is working towards ending extreme poverty by making quality cataract surgery accessible to those living with needless blindness in the developing world.
The main reasons for unequal access to eye health services between men and women have been attributed to:
Low literacy levels and a lack of education imply that women aren’t privy to the information that their blindness can be cured.
Women and their sight are treated as second class citizens across communities. In many instances, one will find households are willing to invest in a man’s cataract surgery as breadwinners, but would not invest in a woman’s surgery. Women, who are usually designated responsibilities of the household, risk their physical health while performing household duties blind.
Across many communities, women are discouraged from travelling alone; therefore they are unable to venture to hospitals, usually a long distance from their communities, to receive eye health services.
While public health issues generally do not discriminate on the basis of gender, blindness and particularly preventable blindness does.
People living with blindness are often unemployed and shut out from economic opportunities due to their disability.
Family members who take care of the needlessly blind often forfeit paid work, pushing families deeper into extreme poverty.
The Lancet published a study that stated investing in curing cataract blindness can increase a patients economic productivity by up to 1,500% more than the cost of surgery in the first postoperative year.
A cataract surgery costs as little as 50 USD and can take just seven minutes.
Blind individuals are dependent upon family members for basic needs and everyday tasks.
Very often, people living with needless blindness aren’t considered an equal and they experience social exclusion.
A blind person is usually not involved in household discussions, unable to participate in festivals and other occasions, and are ostracised by friends and family.
When a patient that suffers from blindness has a family, their children often suffer as they miss school to take care of their blind parent or relative.