Eyeing a Cure for Blindness in Indonesia

Eyeing a Cure for Blindness in Indonesia

Written by Amra Naidoo 
Edited by Sing Suen Soon 

“It’s such a small organ, the eye – and what a big role it plays.
Close your own eyes, and see how big.” – Dr Sanduk Ruit, Founder, A New Vision

80% of all blindness can be cured. 90% of the entire world’s visually impaired live in low income settings. Two thirds of all visually impaired are women. Let that sink in. There are people out there who are blind or have low vision because of their gender and their income level. Led by Dr. Ruit and his supporters, A New Vision is an organisation in Indonesia working to change this. With an estimated 285 million people who are visually impaired worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, which is literally millions of people’s lives that can be drastically changed in an instant.

In tropical countries, such as Indonesia cataracts form 10-15 years earlier than in most other countries due to a higher exposure to UV rays, especially for those people whose occupations are outdoors or rural. Due to this and other reasons, Indonesia is ranked as second in the World for cases of blindness. But, this can be changed. According to A New Vision, of the 80% of people who have curable blindness, 50% are caused by cataracts and 30% by refractive errors. And, thanks to the advancement in medical technology, most patients can see again after a 10-minute, low-cost surgery. For only US$100, 4 out of 5 people, who are blind, can see again. With proper post-operation care, patients are able to regain their sight within 48 hours or less.

Theresia Sembiring, Program Coordinator and Team Representative for A New Vision says, “I have seen many women who are blind [and] lost not only their eyesight but also their husbands. Fathers who abandoned their families when [their] daughter become blind. Girls who cannot go to school because they are tasked to look after their blind grandparents. All these tragedies could have been avoided through a 10-minute one-off sight restoration surgery”.

Based on World Health Organization estimates, among 285 million of the visually-impaired, two-thirds are female. So, although the organisation expects patient ratios to be around 35% male, and 65% female, a cultural preference for men to be treated in the place of, or before women leads to a patient ratio of 60% male, and 40% female.

A New Vision is working to change this by making eye care accessible in the communities they serve, regardless of their ability to pay. So far, 16,000 surgeries have been completed since the organisation’s start in 2011 and they hope to grow their work with your support. They’ve been selected as a Project Inspire 2016 semi-finalist and are currently competing in the crowdfunding stage of the competition to become one of ten finalists. Every donation to their campaign counts as your vote to get them through to the top ten. Votes can be made online at www.projinspire.com until Wednesday 26th October. Make your voice heard!

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