There are 45 million blind people living in the world today.
4 out of 5 people who are blind do not need to be.
Or to put it another way, 80% of people who are blind do not need to be. Worldwide, that’s approximately 36 million people who are needlessly blind.
Almost 90% of the world's blind live in low income countries in Asia and Africa, where access to medical care is poor.
Blindness uproots lives and transforms families.
It affects our physical and emotional well-being.
It impacts our ability to earn a livelihood and to learn about our world.
The life expectancy of a blind person is 1/3 that of a sighted person of the same age.
About half of all blindness is due to cataract – a clouding of the eye lens.
Cataract formation is a natural process that usually comes with age. The lens of the eye becomes progressively cloudy, blocking light from reaching the back of the eye.
In developed countries, almost no one goes blind from cataract.
That’s because there is a very simple operation that fixes cataract blindness, by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a plastic one.
The operation can be carried out in as little as 4 minutes under local anesthetic.
Skilled surgeons can treat dozensof people with cataracts per day - and the operation is straightforward enough that other health staff can be trained to perform it.
A major factor in high blindness rates in developing countries is a relative lack of eye surgeons. In rich countries such as Japan, France, and the U.S., the number of ophthalmologists per million people ranges from 60 to over 100. In India, the number is 9. In Tanzania and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is 1.
The Fiat Lux Foundation was founded to help correct this inequity.
A cataract operation can be performed for as little as $30.
The economic consequences of blindness are staggering.
90% of blind individuals can’t work. Poverty and blindness are intimately linked. Poverty predisposes to blindness, and blindness exacerbates poverty by limiting employment opportunities, or by incurring treatment cost.
Blindness has a profound financial impact on households. The blind family member often requires someone with eyesight to care for him. Effectively two income producing individuals are lost. This creates a devastating economic impact when the family is impoverished to begin with.
There are national costs to consider as well. It has been estimated that by eliminating avoidable blindness, the world's economy would reap a minimum
Cataract surgery is considered one of the most cost-effective health interventions – this has been shown time and time again in studies conducted over the last 30 years.The economic return on investment is very high.
Ending avoidable blindness does not require a research breakthrough, or any new technology. It just requires our collective will as a global community. We have made good progress and we are in sight of a truly remarkable achievement: the elimination of unnecessary blindness!