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Global Treatable Blindness Rises Says Christian Charity


                                                                                                                              Tuesday April 19 2022


AN international Christian charity has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the numbers living with avoidable blindness.

CBM (Christian Blind Mission) says 75% of the world’s blindness can be treated or prevented. The challenges around accessing eye services or treatments during the pandemic, especially in low and middle income countries, are leading to more people than ever needlessly losing their sight.

Dr Monicah Bitok, CBM Global Inclusive Eye Health Advisor explained: “It’s been very worrying to see the impact of Covid. In countries where the levels of blindness were already shocking, they are now even more alarming. During periods of lockdown over the past two years some eye health units were closed completely, only dealing with trauma and emergency cases. But when these clinics opened, patients were required to do a Covid test before they could access surgery services. Many of these patients cannot afford the journey in the first place from rural areas to the hospital, so to pay for a Covid test on top of journey costs was impossible, and as a result many people missed out on vital sight-saving operations. For many the damage has been irreversible. We are now experiencing a huge backlog of patients on top of the already inadequate eye-care services that will take many years and a lot of effort to clear. “

CBM has launched a fundraising appeal here to help scale up its work preventing blindness in the world’s poorest places  with donations received before April 28 doubled. For every £1 donated, a group of generous funders has pledged to give £1 to support sight-saving work around the world, supporting people living in poverty.

The Light up Lives appeal will raise funds to enable people with treatable blindness to see again through sight-restoring surgery, eye treatments and glasses.

CBM’s Chief Executive Kirsty Smith said: “Shockingly, three out of four people who are blind, don’t need to be. Many of the conditions that cause blindness can be easily treated or prevented, but conditions like cataracts - one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide  - can be treated with an operation that can cost just £24 and take as little as 15 minutes. Devastatingly for millions of people who are living in the world’s poorest places, this treatment is simply out of reach.”


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