- An estimated 63 million people in India are visually impaired; of these, approximately 8 million people are blind
- Only 20% of India’s ophthalmologists practice in rural areas, even though 70% of the population resides in these regions
- Globally, India has the largest number of people with visual impairment
Cataracts, glaucoma, refractive error, and conjunctivitis are the most prevalent causes of avoidable blindness in rural India. Additionally, poor nutrition and hygiene, inaccessibility of hospitals, high costs of medicines, and general lack of knowledge about eye health hinder blindness prevention. Blindness renders a person unable to contribute to their family’s wellbeing, and in rural India, this often translates to personal anxiety, and rejection and abandonment by family and friends.
From April 2009 to December 2010, CRHP confronted avoidable blindness by initiating the Jamkhed Comprehensive Eye Care Project. The project conducted 788 cataract surgeries, screened more than 5,000 students for eye problems, and held 8 lecture seminars to train Village Health Workers and community groups about proper eye care and eye diseases. This Eye Care Project had a tremendous impact, restoring not only sight, but also people’s livelihood and dignity.
After only two years, funding dwindled and the program halted, yet, the problem continued to grow. In 2011, a survey conducted in CRHP’s project villages diagnosed 40% of those over age 40 with mature or immature cataracts.
Pushpa Sutar, one of CRHP’s Village Health Workers, lives in the village of Padali. She reports that five people from her village underwent cataract surgeries during CRHP’s eye camps in 2010. She explains the difficulties and limitations that accompany this condition as restricting to someone’s livelihood. Now that their sight has been restored, they have been able to return to their normal lives, engaging with the community once again. She can readily list four current candidates who would benefit immensely from this surgery.
A current initiative at CRHP is to re-launch the Eye Care Project, starting with hosting eye camps at the on-campus, secondary-care Julia Hospital. During camps, villagers will receive free or subsidized diagnosis, care and, if needed, surgery. Following surgical camps, the project will expand; in keeping with CRHP’s core values of preventive medicine, education, and community empowerment, eye screenings will take place in schools in Jamkhed block, and Village Health Workers will be trained to diagnose eye pathologies and educate communities in proper eye care and eye-related diseases.
Check out the amazing support CRHP has been receiving towards restarting the Jamkhed Comprehensive Eye Care Project! Want to be part of this initiative and truly make a difference in someone’s life?
Donate today: https://www.youcaring.com/CRHPseeingisbelieving