Worldwide Warriors

Some of this is a repeat of information I shared a few months back, but a little review is not a bad thing. I know we have readers in low and middle-income countries and I started to wonder about the state of things where these readers are.

Even though most of our readers are in the US, UK and Canada, we should not ignore people just because they don’t make up large numbers; right? Right!

Found the WHO site on vision and blindness. That is as in World Health Organization and not Doctor Who, although over the years I have been partial to Tom Baker and Matt Smith. Bless the BBC. But I digress AGAIN.

The World Health Organization says there are 285 million visually impaired in the world. 39 million of that number are blind. This is two million more than a population estimate I found for Tokyo. 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings. 82% of the people with blindness are over age 50.

To repeat, most of the vision problems in the world could be solved with glasses. That’s 43% of that 285 million or….let me get the calculator, 122,550,025 needed pairs of glasses. Unoperated cataracts come in second at 33% and glaucoma comes in third at 2%. Age-related Macular degeneration comes in down the list.

WHO is in the coordination role for fighting world blindness. Among other initiatives WHO has partnered with Lions Club International to establish a global network of 45 childhood blindness centers in 35 countries. (Actually, the number may be greater than that because the article was written in 2014).

And talking about the Lions Club, the Lions Club doesn’t just dabble in vision support, they are into it up to their own eyeballs around the world. Need a vision hospital in Nepal? Try Butwal. The Lions are there. How about the state of Telengana in India? The Sunyaet Lions have their own hospital.( I think. I need work on my knowledge of Indian geography!) Kenya? SightFirst eye hospital is in Nairobi.

The Lions have dozens and dozens of sites, most of them in developing nations. If you are in need of sight services, contact the Lions Club. The chances are good you can find help.

And once again…is there hope? Are these warriors against blindness fighting a losing battle? In order, yep and nope. The battle is being won. In the last 20 years there has been a decrease in visual impairment worldwide. This is in spite of the aging of the population. The decrease has been primarily due to efforts to eradicate infections causing blindness but other efforts have bearing fruit as well.

So, there you go. WHO and the Lions Club may not own that all around wonder tool, a sonic screwdriver like Doctor Who, but they are still managing to do great things for people with vision loss. If you are living in a developing nations, WHO and the Lions Club may represent your hope.

written July 26th, 2017

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