Avoidable blindness

Imagine living without your sight. Even the simplest things such as eating and walking around becomes a challenge. As your vision slowly worsens, you can no longer see the blackboard at school or see enough to work safely. You stay cooped up at home all day, unable to meet with friends.

Imagine not being able to see the faces of your loved ones.

The problem

This is the reality facing millions of people around the world today. Shockingly, 75% of all visual impairment can be prevented or treated. With 253 million people blind or visually impaired that's around 190 million who would be able to see today if they had received surgery or glasses - the kind of care that many take for granted.

With your help and the support of our amazing volunteers, we can not only give people their sight back today, but help change the quality of ophthalmologists and build a lasting legacy of quality eye care that will ensure no one goes needlessly blind tomorrow.

Orbis, along with our dedicated volunteers and partners, has played a significant role in efforts to decrease worldwide visual impairment. Thanks to this and the hard work of the wider blindness prevention community, the prevalence of visual impairment has dropped from 4.58% in the 1990s to 3.38% today. But, with experts predicting global blindness is set to triple by 2050, there is still a long way to go in the fight to end avoidable blindness altogether.

Eliminating avoidable blindness is one of the most cost effective ways of fighting poverty. For every $1 invested in blindness prevention, more than $4 is returned in economic terms.

But of course, people are not just statistics. At Orbis, we believe everyone deserves the same opportunity to see the sun rise in the morning, regardless of where they are born.

Imagine the world around you in darkness.

Avoidable blindness

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness defines avoidable blindness as blindness which could be either treated or prevented by known, cost-effective means.

Cataract, the condition responsible for nearly half of the world's blindness, is considered avoidable blindness because it can be treated with simple, quick surgeries to remove the cloudy lens and insert intraocular lens. Although cataract surgery is considered one of the most cost-effective health interventions, many people are still not getting the treatment they need because of lack of access and lack of trained surgeons. This is why Orbis focuses on training and building referral networks so that those who need eyecare can get them.

Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication from diabetes and the leading causes of vision loss in working age adults. Early stages of Diabetic Retinopathy can be treated to prevent visual impairment and blindness but there is no treatment to restore vision that has already been lost. This is why regular screening is important to pick up symptoms and track progress of Diabetic Retinopathy to prevent visual loss.

Retinopathy of Prematurity is a potentially blinding yet avoidable eye condition in babies who are born premature. Improving neonatal care and detecting and treating babies who are at the early treatable stages can reduce blindness from Retinopathy of Prematurity. This is why in addition to training surgeons, Orbis works closely with neonatal departments to educate them on proper neonatal care.

Uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment. They are easily treatable with a simple pair of glasses. 1.1 billion people suffer from near vision impairment and it is estimated that global lost productivity due to uncorrected refractive errors comes up to USD202 billion per year.

Diabetic Retinopathy Screening in Vietnam

Most of the time what it takes to help someone see is relatively straightforward - removing a cataract, prescribing glasses, providing access to antibiotics or raising awareness of good eye care can be enough to prevent a lifetime of blindness.

The challenge is building lasting structures that can deliver the type of care needed for generations to come. At Orbis, we know the only way to make a real difference is to help build strong health systems that will go the distance and ensure people can receive good quality eye care when they need it.

This is why we focus on building the capacity of our partners. We support the development and sustainability of our partner's work through training programs.

Eliminating avoidable blindness is one of the most cost effective ways of fighting poverty. For every $1 invested in blindness prevention, more than $4 is returned in economic terms.


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