Childhood blindness, and its cost to families, communities in the developing world
CHILDHOOD CATARACT BLINDNESS, IF LEFT UNTREATED, CAN LEAD TO PERMANENT BLINDNESS.
What are the barriers towards uptake of cataract surgeries in the developing world?
As per an interview with Dr. Rojeeta Parajuli, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation partner doctor and hospital in its mission to cure 1,000 children on cataract blindness by 2026, there are three reasons which act as barriers towards increased uptake of cataract blindness in children:
Many times, families aren’t aware of the availability of cure for their children’s blindness. According to Dr Parajuli, it is very important for families to identify their children’s visual impairment early on, and avail treatment on time to prevent future complications. Dr Parajuli suggests educating parents during birth, and during their regular vaccines about the importance of eye health to raise empower parents to prioritise eye health.
In developing countries such as Nepal, where eye hospitals are already limited, points of care which provide specialised eye care services for children are further limited, mostly available only in large cities. Many times, families with children living with needless blindness live in remote outback regions, from where hospitals are far away. This acts as a further barrier towards uptake of childhood cataract surgeries in the developing world.
For families living in extreme poverty in the developing world, cost of surgery which may cost up to USD 150 per eye, the cost is very steep, and unaffordable. Unable to afford surgery, children continue to live a life of needless blindness, and inevitably become permanently blind.
What is the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation doing to help end poverty induced cataract blindness in children?
The Tej Kohli & Ruit 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.
Watch our documentary short on 3 children suffering from cataract blindness
Besides investing in the reversal of blindness to help lift families and communities from extreme poverty, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation also helps in raising awareness within families via counseling during screening camps, and helps improve accessibility by taking eye care to communities.