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Celebrating the Gift of Sight : World Sight Day

Ganga from Nepal hopes to see again soon.
In 1966 New Zealand physician Dr. Howard Harper entered the operating room in Noor Eye Hospital in Kabul to carry out the first cbm sponsored cataract surgery. This intervention marked the beginning of an unparalleled success story.

Today, 50 years later, cbm thanks its supporters around the world who have funded approximately 13 million cataract operations to give blind people their sight.

Working under difficult conditions
Reflecting on his work in Afghanistan in the early 1960s Dr. Harper later wrote "When I first arrived there was no electricity, no running water and I had to bring all of the medication."  In cbm he found a strong partner to change that situation. cbm raised funds to train medical personnel and provide the necessary equipment to establish a Department of Ophthalmology at the Noor Eye Hospital in Kabul. This provided the framework for the first cataract surgery to be accomplished. Little has been recorded of the historical event itself. Who the patient was and the date on which the operation took place is not known. Years later when asked, Dr. Harper just shrugged. Too many eye surgeries followed the first one, not only in Afghanistan but in many other cbm eye clinics in the world’s poorest countries worldwide.

1,262 interventions per day
Today, cataract surgeries are an important part of cbm’s work. In 2015, every day 1,262 of these procedures were performed with the support of cbm. $35 will provide a cataract operation for an adult in cbm’s projects in poor countries, changing the lives of those affected forever. "Being able to see again for many of our patients means being able to work again and lead a self-determined and independent life," explains Steve Hunt, CEO of cbm New Zealand."Because many people in developing countries cannot afford surgery, cbm is dedicated to providing free eye care services in the poorest regions of the world."

Key Fact
Cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye leading to visual impairment and blindness. 51% of world blindness is caused by cataract – a condition that can drastically affect people who live in extreme poverty
Key Statistics (Source: IAPB)
  • Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness
  • Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment
  • 90% of blind people live in low-income countries
  • Yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable - i.e. readily treatable and/or preventable
  • Restorations of sight, and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
  • An estimated 19 million children are visually impaired) 
Just $35 will give the gift of sight today for an adult with cataract 

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