Cataracts is a leading cause of blindness worldwide, but it's also easily treatable

In rural regions across the world, being blind means a daily struggle for survival. That the disability is curable is often irrelevant in these areas lacking both awareness or medical facilities. Sightsavers is changing this.

Because she lost her sight to cataracts Naheed Akhtar had never seen her granddaughter Savira's beautiful face. For the same reason, Winesi March was no longer able to to be the breadwinner of his family, making things extremely difficult for his wife and 13 children. Laurinda was suffering from immense depression after her husband left and her friends shunned her following her sight loss. 

All three of these people have heartbreaking stories, consequences of a disability that alters life in so many different ways. What's more, their suffering never had to be so prolonged in the first place.

What the world looks like to a child with cataracts. Photo courtesy of Sightsavers

Approximately 20 million people worldwide are blind because of cataracts, a buildup of protein that clouds the eyes' lens. 

We think of cataract as only affecting older people, but they are a serious problem for young children in developing countries too.

Cataracts are not difficult to treat, the operation takes around 20 minutes and is usually inexpensive. However, it is crucial, especially for children, that the disease is treated early; if left untreated for too long, it can lead to permanent blindness.

Thus, there are two main obstacles in developing countries in regards to cataracts. The first is awareness about the disease and the second is having the resources to treat it. Because when we say the treatment is inexpensive, we mean it's inexpensive in developed countries' standards.

Laurinda and her family after her cataracts surgery. Photo courtesy of Sightsavers

Sightsavers, a UK-based charity operating across 30 countries, is tackling cataracts exactly in these two areas. They are not only supporting the education of health staff like doctors, nurses and community workers on eye health, but also the provision of information to local communities about the disease itself, and how and where they can get treatment.

Sightsavers also funds hundreds of thousands of cataract operations each year and supports the training of surgeons to perform these operations. In 2017 alone, the organisation has supported more than 316.000 cataracts operations.

Photo courtesy of Sightsavers

An eye examination to check if someone has cataracts costs less than a cup of coffee. Diagnosis and treatment can save someone's sight and transform their life for the better. Giving an adult their sight back only costs €35 and €90 saves the eyesight and future of a child.

Sightsavers is a Kinder vetted charity protecting the sight of millions around the world. If you too want to support their cause and be a part of the sight revolution, you can donate to Sightsavers below.

Header image courtesy of Sightsavers

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