- The number one cause of treatable blindness worldwide is cataract; it affects over 18 million people, or 48% 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.
What HKI Is Doing
- 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. The price of the cataract treatment varies from country to country, but can cost the patient as little as $12-$100.
- 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.