Avoidable Blindness

I still get National Geographic even if I don’t read it cover to cover like I used to. I mean to get back to it – I really do; I love it! – but CCTV lights shining on glossy pages are a bit much. However, when my husband handed me a pile of old Nat Geos (National Geographics) and I saw the cover of September, 2016, I had to read at least one article. The title was The End of Blindness: Winning the Fight to See.

My first thought was “We have made the big time!” Cover of Nat Geo is absolutely the big time in my book. Then I thought “Everything they are saying about the incredible research and the discoveries made really is true.” Nat Geo for me is sort of like Walter Cronkite; if they say it, it is true.

The article has some scary statistics: 39 million people are not able to see, as in no functional vision at all. 246 million have reduced vision. That is rather a lot of people.

The article went on and talked about the research that is occurring. It talked about genetic engineering and stem cells. They also mentioned two different types of ‘bionic eyes’.

In addition, it mentioned that Sanford Greenberg has pledged $3 million in gold to the person who contributes the most to ending blindness by his end date, 2020, of course! (Better get busy on your cure projects!) The Audacious Goal Initiative continues going strong, handing out money to worthy research projects. People are putting their money where their mouths are and getting behind this campaign.

Eliminate all blindness by 2020? Great goal, but probably not attainable. Curing avoidable blindness might be possible. Avoidable blindness?

AMD is my condition and my passion. I am doing well but I would do a heck of a lot better if someone found a cure for this stuff. Problem is, according to Nat Geo, AMD is a piddly 1% of the total picture! It is important to you and me but it barely makes a blip on the world radar.

If our condition is so insignificant in the big picture, what is significant? Refraction errors. That is 43% of the problem. Nearly half of the vision problems of the human race could be cured by giving people glasses.

Guess that means we all get to dig in drawers and find our old spectacles. Call your local Lions Club to find the nearest collection box. Or better yet, Walmart Optical is supposed to collect them. Drop them off the next time you go shopping. Better they are helping someone to see than sitting in a drawer for the next decade or two.

And if you really want to get rid of more sight problems, try cataracts at 33%. In the developing world people with cataracts get to go blind. No one to do the operations is part of the problem. Nat Geo says Niger has 18 million people and 7 ophthalmologists! The other problem is funding. Subsistence farming does not allow one to pay for medical specialists.

One last plug and I am out of here. Nat Geo mentions a worthy charity: SEE International. Stands for Surgical Eye Expeditions. They provide cataract surgeries free of charge.

Done here. Bed time! Night!

Next: “I Don’t Want to Go There!”

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