- The number one cause of treatable blindness worldwide is cataract; it affects almost 20 million people, or approxinately half of all blind adults.
- Cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens in the eye, which develops as a result of aging, trauma, diabetes or heredity.
- Adult cataract affects people in developing and developed countries to the same degree; however, in developing countries, where 90% of global blindness exists, the poor don’t have access to eye health services, such as cataract treatment, and typically can’t afford them if they are available.
- Working in partnership with local Ministries of Health, Helen Keller International works to improve the accessibility, efficiency and quality of cataract treatment and surgical care.
- HKI helps train surgeons, nurses and community health workers, sets up referral services for those afflicted, and provides medical equipment and technology so patients can have sight restoring surgery.
- This straight-forward and inexpensive surgery replaces the damaged lens of the eye with a synthetic intraocular lens. The results of cataract treatment are miraculous: in most cases, when the surgeon removes the bandages, patients can see almost immediately, often after having suffered from blindness for years.
- HKI’s Comprehensive Cataract Care Model uses a public health approach to develop sustainable systems for cataract treatment. This model includes broad-based community education and outreach to increase the demand for services; developing properly equipped surgical facilities that meet international standards; enhanced clinical skills and the resulting improvement in surgical outcomes through enhanced training and after care; and increased access to cataract services for poor patients through the adoption of a high-volume, low-cost service delivery model.