For a little over four years, 59-year-old Kusumlata Devi from Dharuhera (in Haryana) had been suffering from severe visual impairment due to cataracts.
A widower, her eldest son takes care of her when he is not working as a carpenter. The family lives in a tiny brick hut, with their flock of cattle stationed in the small courtyard outside.
Till a few months ago, Kusumlata Devi’s family had just one wish — they wanted her to be able to see again. Due to her Kusumlata Devi Since her vision started to decline, Kusumlata Devi had become increasingly withdrawn, feeling as if her whole being was becoming darker and drearier.
Luckily for Kusumlata Devi, Sight For All Foundation organized a free screening camp in her village. She was brought to the camp by her son. She was screened with cataracts in both eyes and was referred to the base hospital at Delhi. Her transport, surgery, medicines and consumables were all free.
She was operated on one eye first. The cataract surgery was performed in approximately five minutes, with limited inputs, minimal to no follow-up and extraordinary results. To Kusumlata Devi, the overnight transformation from darkness to light is nothing short of a miracle.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), around 253 million people worldwide live with visual impairment while 36 million are affected by blindness. The leading cause of this global health crisis is untreated cataracts, a condition in which vision starts blurring and dimming as the lens of the eye becomes clouded.
This holds true for India too, a developing country where cataracts still affect as many as 74% of adults above age 60.
World-class, low-cost care
A study by University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center reveals that eliminating cataract-related blindness and low vision in India would cost $2.6 billion and would yield a net societal benefit of $13.5 billion.
Cataract surgery can completely change the ability of a patient to be economically and socially self-sufficient and can dramatically affect quality of life of both the individual and his or her family
Sight For All Foundation is on a mission to eliminate avoidable blindness. And the first phase of its Vision is to perform 2020 free cataract surgeries for the needy living in underserved regions. Sight for All Foundation aims to achieve this through extending the reach of equitable and quality medical and surgical eye care services to the poor and needy – through active community involvement, screening camps and surgical services.
At SFAF, community service is not just helping the underprivileged but also roping in community to contribute to our endeavours.
In partnership with a number of Social workers, NGOs and institutions, SFAF conducts eye camps at the city slums as well as rural areas. Those who require surgery are brought to SFAF Tertiary Care Centre. Surgery, stay in the hospital, conveyance and post-operative care expenses are borne by SFAF if a patient’s family income is less than Rs. 10,000 per month. Following the surgery, the patient is taken back to his/her village; this is followed by a doctor visit a week later to examine how the patient is recuperating.
In the world of public health, there are few ways to change a life more dramatically or more cheaply.
Making eye care accessible without compromising on quality is the best way to create equitable and sustainable access to vision and sight care for all.