“Blindness is the most feared disability amongst the poor and financially disadvantaged in third world countries, but in many cases it can be cured.”There are 285 million people worldwide who are visually impaired, out of which about 40% are totally blind.Approximately 90% of these people live in developing countries.The majority of these (around 80%) are above the age of 50 and 50% of these people are totally blind because of cataracts.Common causes of visual impairment in developing countries are:
- Uncorrected refractive errors (short and long sightedness and astigmatism)
- Malnutrition, vitamin A deficiencies
- Inadequate health education (e.g. regarding adverse impact of smoking or UV exposure)
- Poor hygiene and sanitation
- Poor water supply
Many visually impaired people in developing countries live in squalid slums. These people are considered a burden on the family due to their extra care requirements and inability to contribute. 90% of them cannot work and are either totally reliant on their families to support them or are discarded, to live and beg on the streets. Their life expectancy drops to one third of the average for their age group.
Visual impairment and blindness leads to loss of self-respect, dignity and social standing.
Blindness in childhood is also very common in these countries, mainly due to nutritional deficiencies, infections, lack of provision of glasses and congenital cataracts. The sad fact is that many of these cases can be prevented or reversed. Many of VBA’s patients are children under the age of 10.
It is such communities and patients that VBA helps through performing free clinical consultations and eye assessments, cataract surgery, provision of glasses and the administration of any other necessary eye care.
We restore sight and hope.