Globally, one person goes blind every five seconds—and one child loses his or her sight every minute. Eye conditions treatable in their early stages in developed nations are frequently left untreated in the poorest parts of the world and often lead to impairment or blindness. The majority of blindness cases are curable and could be avoided by prevention and early treatment. Being blind in developing countries often means being considered an outcast. In fact, many blind children do not survive past the age of five.
In the developing world, cataracts remain the leading cause of avoidable visual impairment, affecting 50% in Sub-Saharan Africa. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens which impedes the passage of light. Although most cataract cases are related to the aging process, occasionally children are born with the condition. As well, cataracts can develop after eye injuries, inflammation, or as a result of ocular diseases. Cataract surgery is one of the most cost-effective treatments that can be offered in developing countries.
Statistics (source: WHO)
- 37 million people are blind worldwide. Most of the world’s blind – some 90% – live in poor nations where eye care is inaccessible.
- 50% of blindness cases in developing nations are preventable and 80% of those affected can have their vision restored through proper treatment.
- The number of surgeons experienced in ophthalmic surgery within developing nations is decreasing.
Transformational Health Care Through Eye Care Programs
Mercy Ships aims to prevent the effects of blindness by providing specialised medical treatment. Using hospital ships backed by land-based programs, we deliver free eye operations to restore sight and improve quality of life.
Most incidents of cataract blindness are curable and sight can be restored with a low-cost, 20-minute eye operation. Mercy Ships surgeons use the latest methods and technology, also performing procedures to correct pterygium (growths on the cornea of the eye), strabismus (the medical term for crossed eyes), eyelid deformities, and replacing painful or disfiguring blind eyes with prostheses.
Training and Educational Initiatives
Volunteer ophthalmologists are trained in the skills needed to meet the unique eye-care challenges of developing nations. In addition, by training local eye-care providers, Mercy Ships will empower communities to better manage their own needs.
Cataracts & Crossed Eyes
The consequences of blindness include severe economic and social suffering. The World Health Organization states that 80% of blindness results from causes that were preventable or could now be reversed. But most of the world’s blind – some 90% – live in impoverished nations where even minimal eye care is inaccessible.
Mercy Ships ophthalmic surgeons perform critical eye surgeries affording patients renewed sight and improved quality of life, and train local surgeons in the removal of cataracts, eviscerations and correction of strabismus.