Posts Tagged: “Cataract”

The Front Line of Eye Health

This blog post was written by Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Regional Director of West Africa.

MAMBIRI, KITA  (MALI), July 3, 2013. When we arrived at the community health center in the village of Mambiri, there was already a throng of patients waiting. In the days prior, the local health workers had canvassed the area surrounding Mambiri, informing people that a team would be visiting to conduct trachoma screening and surgery for those with trichiasis. The team consisted of three ophthalmological nurses who have traveled from Mali’s capital city, Bamako. The team is mid-way through a ten day circuit of the local health centers, in remote communities such as Mambiri. The team works with the local health center staff to get the word out, to screen and to follow up patients who need further care or treatment.

Nurse Adama Sangaré (left) and the Eye Health team in Mali. Photo: c. HKI/Douglas Steinberg

One nurse, Adama Sangaré, works the through the crowd who are seated along with wall under the awning of the health center, consulting with each individual. They come with a variety of eye care issues, many of which can be easily treated with tetracycline or other antibiotics, and the patients sent on their way. Some will present issues, such as cataracts, that are referred to the district or regional hospital. Around a half dozen will require surgery for trichiasis, which is performed on the spot by two other nurses. Their goal is to perform an average of seven operations a day.

I am greatly impressed by the team of nurses. They are skilled in their work, and take the time to discuss (in the local language Bamabara) with each patient. They advise the patients how to avoid getting infected again, for example through face washing. The few who need surgery are coached through the procedure, with gentle words. The operation is fairly painless (patients say), but it still takes some nerve to submit to it. And all go away pleased with the results. The health care workers who provide this service are working in very basic conditions. They are away from home long periods, staying in remote areas with no amenities – not even running water or electricity. They are really the front line of eye health in Mali, and they perform their work with great pride and good cheer.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

The Importance of Good Partnerships: Meet HKI’s Dr. David S. Friedman

An interview with HKI's Senior Ophthalmologist and Eye Health Advisor.

You sometimes hear the phrase, “One plus one equals three,” and I have been struck by the power of that notion in my work with Helen Keller International through the partnerships we create with local organizations. I recently sat down with Dr. David S. Friedman, HKI’s Senior Ophthalmologist and Eye Health Advisor, to talk about his experiences in public health and his perspective on building partnerships to achieve success.  Dr. Friedman most recently was awarded the prestigious Alcon Research Institute award for his contributions to ophthalmic research.


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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness, Staff Profiles

Test Your Knowledge!

A Global Blindness Facts Quiz

How much do you know about blindness and visual impairment? Take our quiz to test your global health knowledge!

Instructions: Answer all 5 questions. Once you are finished the correct answers will be displayed.

How many people worldwide are visually impaired?

What percentage of all visual impairment is avoidable by prevention, treatment or cure?

What percentage of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries?    

Globally, what is the most common cause of visual impairment?

Which of the following blinding diseases can be  prevented or treated?

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Categories Preventing Blindness

A Great Last Minute Gift

Christmas Oranament

Hanukkah has begun and Christmas is just days away. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift, look no further!  This holiday season, make a donation to Helen Keller International in honor of someone special to help save the sight and lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Whatever amount you give  – $1,000 to provide 1,000 children with life-saving vitamin A, $250 to restore the vision of five people through cataract surgery, or $25 to give one American child the glasses she needs  – your gift will make a significant improvement in someone’s life. You can’t say the same for fruitcake!

Don’t just take my word for it: Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times columnist, Nick Kristof included HKI in his annual gift guide noting: “HKI gets more bang for the buck than almost any group I can think of.”

Our success is due to the loyal commitment of friends and supporters like you. During this season of giving as we look forward to a new year, please consider making a difference with a donation to Helen Keller International.

On behalf of the HKI team working around the globe – and those whose lives are touched because of your generosity – we wish you happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.


A drawing from a child in Cambodia who benefited from our Homestead Food Production program. The ornament at top was drawn by a student in NYC who received free eyeglasses through our ChildSight® program.

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Categories Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition, United States

Helen Keller International Celebrates World Sight Day with New Blog: Seed to Sight


Welcome! World Sight Day seemed like the perfect occasion to officially launch Helen Keller International’s new blog, Seed to Sight. Today is a day of global awareness about how to avoid and treat blindness and visual impairment, and our blog is a means to start a dialogue about our programs and the issues we face in preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition around the world. We will also share perspectives and viewpoints from people in the communities where we work.


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Categories Preventing Blindness

Watch Our Video: New Hope for the Elderly in China

Cataract surgery in southern China restores sight to low-income, elderly residents.

It seems China is everywhere in the news recently. From stories on its booming economy to reports on its massive modernization drive complete with gleaming new hotels and skyscrapers. Despite these great advancements, elderly people living in some of China’s poor, rural areas − where modernization has yet to arrive − are still suffering from a lack of basic eye care. In fact, there is an unacceptably high rate of cataract blindness in these areas, which is all the more discouraging since cataract surgery is a proven solution that can correct this condition.


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Categories Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness