14.83% of a Rural Community in Nepal Are Living With Needless Blindness
In a rural fishing and farming village in the Morang District of Nepal, a team from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation set up a screening camp on 15th August, 2022. Of the 155 people screened, 23 people were found to be living with cataracts, one of the highest numbers the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has found in over 80 camps that have been set up.
Cataracts are a form of needless blindness which disproportionately affects those in the developing world. Statistics show that there are 52 million people who experience visual impairments due to cataracts, with 99% of those living in developing countries.
According to a report by the International Agency of Preventable Blindness (IAPB), “The major challenge in eye health remains reducing the inequality in coverage. Currently, 1 billion people are being left behind in eye health. Sadly, blindness and vision impairment tends to be concentrated among the poorest and most socially disadvantaged members of society”.
The prevalence rate of cataract blindness in the village was 14.83%, which corroborates several research reports showing the prevalence of cataract blindness is very high in developing nations compared to developed nations. Such a high rate of blindness not only affects individuals and families, but at many times pushes entire communities further into the vicious cycle of blindness induced poverty.
Needless blindness is a cause and consequence of extreme poverty. To achieve Goal 1 of 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is eliminating extreme poverty everywhere by 2030, significant investments in curing blindness in the developing world must be made.
Inspired by the UN’s SGDs vision of eradicating extreme poverty across the world, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has made it its mission to screen one million people in the developing world. Since its inception in March 2021, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has cured over 18,500 people of needless cataract induced blindness. The work of the foundation has spanned several countries in 88 outreach camps and the foundation has no intention of slowing down.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation believes large scale investments in sight restoration programs has the ability to transform communities — communities such as Katahari, where those living with needless blindness are able to have a second chance to become active members of society — to be able to pursue their economic activities, and therefore lifting entire communities out of extreme poverty.