Opening the eyes of the blind: World Sight Day

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With around 39 million blind people in the world, understanding and supporting organizations that can prevent, treat and cure the condition is pivotal in the global efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness, Says Hermoine Macura.

Today is World Sight Day – a day when millions across the world join organizations worldwide in recognizing the achievements that have been made in eliminating avoidable blindness. However there is still so much work that needs to be done.

FRED on the FIELD
FRED on the FIELD. Photo courtesy- http://www.hollows.org.au/

Four-year-old Joy was first diagnosed with cataract in both eyes at 18 months of age, but with no centralized system to capture and store eye patient information, her treatment was not followed up. Her story is one of millions across the developing world and with doctors saying it is vital that children are assessed and treated for eye conditions as early as possible – a delay in her treatment could result in a lifetime of blindness.

According to statistics, an estimated 39 million people around the world today are blind. However 4 out of 5 don’t need to be. The fight to end blindness has a lot to do with education and funding. Like did you know that four out of five people who are blind don’t need to be?

Based on this figure above, 80% of the cases are due to causes, which can be prevented, treated or cured. In addition to that, 90% of blind people live in the developing world and simply don’t have access to the right medical treatment.

For organizations like the Fred Hollows Foundation, founded by Australians Fred and Gabi Hollows around their dinner table in Sydney almost 20 years ago, fixing eyes and restoring sight in the developing world is their focus.

Over the past five years alone, The Foundation has carried out nearly one million sight-restoring operations and treatments–approximately one every 2.6 minutes and has also helped examine the eyes of more than 7.2 million people across the globe.

In the last 20 years, more than 220,000 Australians and 10,000 organizations have put their hands in their pockets and made a donation to support the blindness prevention programs that Fred Hollows (1929-93) began.

JOY after her operation
JOY after her operation. Photo courtesy- http://www.hollows.org.au/

The Foundation’s CEO Brian Doolan says it’s been a remarkable journey, but there is still a long way to go.

“Fred’s goal, our goal is that no one–regardless of who they are, where they live or what they can afford–should go needlessly blind. That is the goal we are committed to achieving,” Brian Doolan says.

“We are working closely with our international partners and health ministries to achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness by 2020.

“Via these international collaborations we are launching new initiatives for the global elimination of trachoma, improving our response to diabetic retinopathy, expanding support for institutions and professional associations that are training and developing a global eye health workforce. “We are also investing in eye health technology that can deliver the highest quality of eye care to people everywhere. Tele-ophthalmology, e-medicine technologies delivering health services without regard for geographic isolation, low-cost eye imaging cameras that can be safely transported in canoes and 4WDs–these are the types of innovations The Foundation will support.

As a child, I grew up down the road for Fred and Gabby in Sydney, Australia. My earliest memory of him was when we used to go trick or treating and stop by their castle like house. I used to imagine that Fred was a mad professor with his wild white hair and melancholic demeanor.  It was only much later on that I learned that he was actually a doctor who had spent a large part of his life dedicated to restoring sight to people with blindness. Despite passing away in 1993, my memories of him remain an inspiration and motivation to support his cause and endless passion to open the eyes of the blind.  A love and a legacy that is now shared by the majority of Australians – our gift to the world.

Donate to the Fred Hollows Foundation at: www.hollows.org.au/donate 

Hermoine Macura is the first Australian female English speaking TV News Anchor in the Middle East, and also one of the area’s most recognized faces. Prior to establishing Straight Street Media in 2012, Hermoine was one of the main Anchor’s on Dubai One TV’s Emirates News. Her first book, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST was published in 2010.

Faces of the Middle East by Hermoine Macura
Faces of the Middle East by Hermoine Macura

FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST is a book that aims to introduce the various ethnic and social groups who reside throughout the Middle East, proof that this part of the world is not, as many in the West mistakenly believe, a monolithic culture.

Neither a definitive story nor a political statement, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST, is the culmination of more then seven years of Photojournalism that documents the existence and rich diversity present in the region.

Order a copy online at www.straightstreetmedia.ae

 

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