CBI Helps Adults & Children Overcome Blindness
Help us spread the word – please share this story!
This year, Combat Blindness International (CBI) celebrates 35 years of service alleviating avoidable blindness throughout the world. In the life of our organization, we have supported over 2.2 million eye screenings and over 360,000 cataract surgeries. Working with partners in India, Myanmar, Lebanon, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Mali, Namibia, Botswana, Paraguay, Brazil and the United States, CBI is on the forefront of creating sustainable solutions in eye care.
In this two-part article, we will share a snapshot of CBI’s 35-year impact in preventing and eliminating avoidable blindness through direct patient care and capacity building. cataract
International Cataract Program
CBI’s International Cataract Program started small by initiating four eye camps and supporting 319 cataract surgeries at King George Medical College in Lucknow, India in 1984. In 2018, CBI supported the screening of 344,977 men, women and children, 33,225 cataract surgeries and the distribution of 13,793 pairs of glasses. We have expanded our work to include 17 countries on 4 continents all to bring sustainable, world-class eye care to areas with the greatest need.
This year, CBI will complete the Bring Sight to Botswana project, where our goal was to alleviate the backlog of 6,000 cataract patients awaiting surgery in the country. May 21, 2019 will mark the start of the 6th and final campaign in this effort. Botswana has a population of 2.8 million people and it has the third highest prevalence of blindness and visual impairment in Africa. The vast majority of visual impairment in Botswana is caused by refractive error or cataract, both easily treatable. Working with our partners, Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Cambridge Global Health Partners, PEEK and the Botswana Ministry of Health and Welfare, we will eliminate blindness due to cataracts in the entire country of Botswana in 2019.
International Pediatric Program
CBI’s International Pediatrics Program started with a 2-year xerophthalmia project at Sitapur Eye Hospital in Sitapur, India in 1984. Xerophthalmia causes a melting of the cornea due to a lack of Vitamin A in the diet and if left untreated results in irreversible blindness. This project was one of CBI’s first major efforts at preventing and eliminating both low vision and blindness in children. This project confirmed that a lack of Vitamin A is a major cause of xerophthalmia. As part of this project, CBI gave children at risk of developing xerophthalmia Vitamin A boosters and parents education on the importance of Vitamin A and seeds to grow vegetables rich in Vitamin A.
Since then, CBI’s efforts have focused on school screenings. It is estimated that 80% of learning is visual, so early childhood screening for refractive errors and eye conditions is critical.
Through school screenings, we ensure that pediatric eye diseases and conditions are identified and treated as soon as possible. If vision problems are caught early enough in a child’s development, we can preserve vision in order to ensure a child’s ability to learn. Whether through screening or providing glasses and surgeries, we believe that each child should have the opportunity to reach their highest potential.
CBI currently supports worldwide eye screenings for 80,000 to 90,000 children per year, including children in India, Africa, South America and the United States. One such program is CBI’s partnership with Usha Kiran Eye Hospital in Mysore, India. In this program, children are screened for refractive errors, eye diseases and given basic healthcare. Working in one of the most rural areas of India, this program has screened more than 170,000 children, provided more that 4,000 pairs of glasses and supported over 600 pediatric eye surgeries to date.
We are proud of the patient care we’ve been able to provide in 35 years and we look forward to continuing to work toward a world free of preventable blindness.