In North America, Europe and some parts of Asia, eye health care has become quite advanced. Most preventable blindness is prevented, infections are treated quickly, and refractive errors are corrected for clear vision. In the developing world, however, the eye health situation is far behind modern standards in wealthier areas.
Two hundred eighty-five million people suffer from blindness or low vision. Ninety percent of those people live in developing countries, and 80 percent suffer unnecessarily from preventable or treatable vision disorders. A number of eye charities exist to provide care in countries where problems are the most severe like China, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia.
China has the most cases of blindness in the world—8.2 million, or roughly one in five people. The majority of trained opthamologists live in cities, while most of those suffering from blindness are in rural areas. Despite the recent introduction of health insurance in rural areas, the cost of health care is still prohibitively high for many Chinese.
Over half the population of Bangladesh lives below the poverty line. This means that not only do those living in Bangladesh lack proper health care, they also often do not have access to adequate nutrition or sanitary water. All of these factors contribute to high incidences of blindness, including 40,000 children under age 15. In addition, Bangladesh has problems with rural access much like China. Older Bangladeshi have high rates of cataracts, a treatable clouding of the eyes that occurs naturally with age.
In Ethiopia, there is approximately one ophthalmologist for every three million people. In a country of 82 million, 1.2 million are blind and another 2.8 million suffer from impaired vision. In addition to problems found elsewhere associated with poverty and lack of health care, Ethiopia has an extraordinarily high rate of trachoma, a contagious eye infection that eventually results in blindness.
Eye charities based in North America work in these countries and others to bring modern eye health care to people in need. LASIK MD supports several of these organizations, including Operation Eyesight Universal and VOSH.
Operation Eyesight Universal
Founded to fight preventable blindness in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and India, Operation Eyesight Universal works to create lasting improvements in eye health by training local health care providers, establishing facilities and institutions, and putting in place self-sustained funding. LASIK MD has a staff-donation program in which the company matches all donations made by employees—over $25,000 has been raised to date. LASIK MD has also made other significant donations to the program.
Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, or VOSH, has a similar goal to Operation Eyesight, with a stronger focus on optometry and vision correction than on infectious eye diseases. With the World Health Organization, VOSH has pledged to end preventable blindness by 2020 with help from sponsors like LASIK MD.
Along with these organizations, LASIK MD supports initiatives like ORBIS, the Day of Caring, and other eye charities. Between these organizations, sponsors, and countless caring individuals, preventable blindness and other eye issues are steadily being reduced.