Sight Saved for 50,000 People
The training of community workers in Nepal and India has prevented more than 50,000 men, women and children from losing their sight.
It’s hard to imagine living with a treatable disease and not having access to treatment that could cure it. Especially if that illness or injury will lead to losing your sight.
For many in low- and middle-income countries, this is the case. More than 90% of the world’s corneal blind live in these regions, many having lost their sight from treatable corneal abrasions.
Luckily for Meena, a 22-year-old mother from the remote village of Madhya Koluwa in Nepal, a program led by SightLife International, now a part of HCP Cureblindness, changed her future. The program recently hit an impressive milestone of successfully treating more than 50,000 men, women and children for corneal abrasions.
Prevention Program Saving Sight
The program works with established networks of care in rural communities in Nepal and India to train frontline health workers to identify and treat corneal scratches. The program fills a critical gap in the eye care system by providing early intervention and treatment that is cost effective and accessible in rural communities. Since 2016, the prevention program has provided training for more than 880 community health workers in Nepal and India.
Diagnosed corneal abrasions are easily treatable with topical antibiotics. Undiagnosed, they can cause pain ranging from mild discomfort to intense stabbing pain. Untreated, the damage to the cornea progresses. One’s vision blurs and one becomes sensitive to light. The injured eye may water uncontrollably. The patient may experience eye twitching and even nausea.
Meena sought treatment when her eye injury continued to progress. She worried what would happen to her two children if she lost her sight. She also worried about her own independence and livelihood.
For the cost of a few dollars, Meena’s abrasion was treated and eventually healed.
Without this early intervention, many if not most, including Meena, will go blind.
“I don’t know where my family would be if it weren’t for this program in my village. The free treatment and medicine available without traveling means that I can now continue providing for my family,” Meena says. Her husband is unable to work due to an illness making Meena her family’s sole provider.
How HCP Plans to Help More People See
HCP Cureblindness plans to expand the prevention program by scaling in new and existing geographies, investing in technology and developing new curricula to prevent new cases of corneal blindness. They will utilize their current partnerships to expand care to countries where they are actively helping to eradicate needless blindness. The combined networks of HCP Cureblindness and SightLife number in the hundreds of committed partners and collaborators.
In March 2023, HCP Cureblindness acquired SightLife International to make a greater global impact in eye care. Together, each organization’s respective expertise will have a substantial and long-term impact on the world’s most underserved communities. Building on a shared commitment to training, while also combining HCP Cureblindness’ deep expertise in specialized care delivery and infrastructure development with SightLife International’s expertise in primary care and policy and advocacy, millions more will have access to critical eye care across Asia and Africa.