Cataract – the Avoidable Blindness

Cataract is the most common cause of avoidable blindness in Malawi. The most disheartening thing is that people who are blind due to cataract conditions need not be such at all as there is a service that can be provided to make sure that they regain their sight.

Blindness, per se, has a tremendous and negative social impact on affected individuals as well as on their families and the community at large. With challenges that come as a result of blindness, compounded by the fact that a majority of cataract-stricken patients come from very poor rural backgrounds, with no access to eye health services, sight restoration programs are a welcome intervention both in human and economic terms.

And this is where Malawi Relief Fund-UK (MRF-UK), in partnership with both Gift of the Givers Foundation (GOTG) and Shukran Orphan Care Centre (SOCC), between May and June 2013, came in to conduct a sight restoration program in two districts of Machinga and Mangochi in Southern Malawi. The services were made available through financial support from Masjid-e-Anisul Islam and Dr. Harun Yusuf of Blackburn, United Kingdom.

A cataract operation is a cost effective one from which, generally, sight is restored within a short period of time and with a relatively minimum cost. These eye surgeries are conducted by a team of local eye specialists led by an experienced Eye Surgeon.

All in all, each sight restoration program is able to screen up to or more than 1,000 patients at a time,and those found to be in need of eye surgery, are operated on and have their sight restored. Thereafter, the patients go back to their respective villages and help in the development of their respective communities.

This is, therefore, a story of “from total darkness to total daylight”in which MRF-UK has been instrumental in giving back sight to the blind, in partnership with local organizations, i.e.GOTG and SOCC, with funding from donors who have willingly and generously supported a program that restores sight to the blind in Malawi.

The project is ongoing and, with over 75,000 Malawians suffering from cataract conditions that are curable, overwhelming support is needed to overcome such Avoidable Blindness.