The World Health Organisation estimates four in five cases of blindness globally are avoidable. World Sight Day is marked on October 9, and calls for ‘No More Avoidable Blindness’.
In an attempt to tackle avoidable blindness, Dr Shroff Charity Eye Hospital operates a network of hospitals and vision centres in towns and villages in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, and in the capital New Delhi. These centres offer low-cost or pro-bono treatment for conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, staff travel to remote areas for check-ups at field camps, and work in vision centres in towns and villages, referring certain cases to larger hospitals.
The Shroff network aims extend access to low-cost, high-quality eye care to those who might not normally be able to access or afford it. More women than men suffer problems with eyesight, according to staff at the Dr Shroff Charity Eye Hospital, because of the societal roles they take on.
Women traditionally spend a greater amount of time working outdoors, exposed to harsh sunlight and UV rays. They often feed male family members and children first, consuming less-nutritious meals after others have eaten, and cook over naked flames where they exposed to smoke from animal dung, leaves or coal used as fuel. Women also earn less, and live in more unhygienic conditions which can lead to infections, while male family members often relocate to towns or cities for work, where conditions and salaries are better.
A patient walks past an examination room as another undergoes an examination at the Dr Shroff Charity Eye Hospital in Alwar in the state of Rajasthan. (AFP Photo)