Author Archives: Claire Coveney

Claire Coveney

Saving the Sight of Diabetics in Bangladesh and Indonesia

Did you know that by 2030 over 550 million people in the world will suffer from diabetes? According to the International Diabetes Federation approximately 366 million people already have diabetes and 80% them live in low and middle income countries.  The age of onset for Type 2 diabetes continues to fall worldwide, and is increasingly found in people as young as their late teens and early twenties.

What do these shocking statistics have to do with eye health? One of the lesser known side effects of diabetes is called diabetic retinopathy and results in a sometimes irreversible loss of vision among diabetics. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is asymptomatic in its early stages, so regular screening is to identify and treat DR is crucial.

With funding from the World Diabetes Foundation and Standard Chartered Bank, HKI successfully developed two pilot programs in Bangladesh and Indonesia, areas where DR is often untreated due to a lack of well-trained ophthalmologists. The key components of HKI’s program include training diabetes clinicians to recognize the disease and encourage their patients to obtain annual eye examinations; raising awareness among diabetics about the significant risk of vision loss; and increasing patient access to DR screenings and care by developing affordable and efficient treatment systems. Working with our local partners, HKI has succeeded in making DR screening a basic component of the screening regimen for all diabetes patients served by these facilities. This process includes photographing the retina, sending the images to ophthalmologists outside of the region over the internet, determining the presence and severity of disease and offering appropriate treatment to the patients. HKI hopes to scale-up these efforts to train more doctors and reach more diabetics to prevent the spread of diabetic retinopathy.


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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness

High School Students Raise Funds and Awareness about HKI!

Nicole and Faith are in twelfth grade at Westmount Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada. They are both 17 years old and enrolled in a World Issues course this year. The course taught them about political, environmental, economical, and social issues present in the world today. As a final assignment, they were tasked to make a difference and spread awareness about an important cause. They chose Helen Keller International’s Vitamin A Supplementation program. Inspired by their dedication, I wanted to hear Nicole and Faith’s story about their journey to becoming advocates for HKI. So, I reached out with a few questions. more…

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Categories Reducing Malnutrition, United States

NTDs and WASH Programs

How NTD programs can work with WASH programs for common goal of improved public health

This post was written by Chad MacArthur, Helen Keller International’s Director of Neglected Tropical Disease Control and originally appeared as the first of many NTD Spotlights on the brand new ENVISION website.

There is no question that mass drug administration (MDA) has had an enormous impact on disease burden but it needs to be recognized that these diseases are public health problems and our response to them needs to be through public health interventions that are beyond just preventive chemotherapy (PC).  These diseases must be dealt with within a broader socio-economic development context.  One of the key elements that will sustain the gains made by MDA for trachoma, soil transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis is the increased access to safe water, improved sanitation and the promotion of hygiene; commonly referred to as WASH.  Integrating WASH with PC and promoting the behaviors that accompany WASH allows for a comprehensive control strategy such as trachoma has promoted for a number of years through the SAFE strategy. more…

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Categories Africa

Seeing More Clearly through ChildSight®

The eighth graders at MS 80 in the Bronx line up, single file, in front of an eye chart on the stage of their crowded auditorium. Some of them read the letters on the chart aloud with clarity and certainty. Others have trouble reading even the top few lines. Some students are already wearing glasses, while others have spent months and even years squinting to read letters on signs or on the chalkboard in class. more…

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Categories Preventing Blindness, United States