Thousands of individuals in Iganga District suffer from eye disease, cataracts, and blindness; often these eye problems are caused by other health concerns such as child malnutrition, malaria, water-borne disease, and lack of sanitation. In the village, poor sight and blindness are not merely personal concerns – the resulting lack of productivity may deprive a family of food, income, school tuition, further medical care for children, among other things.
Many of the most common eye problems in Iganga could be easily treated, but are not. Cataracts, a gradual clouding of the eye, can often be repaired through minor surgery; trachoma, an infectious eye disease caused by bacteria, can be easily medicated in its early stages, or corrected by surgery in the later stages. Yet people go blind because of these ailments.
Repairing Eye Conditions
Through Healthy Villages, we partner with Sight Savers International (SSI), a UK-based non-profit which works to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in the developing world. In partnership with SSI, we train one member of the Village Health Team, to recognize and diagnose various eye problems. Using the VHT eye focal person we mobilize people with eye problems for treatment and repair for those with curable eye problems, and refer those that cannot be treated to services and to help them live as normally as possible.
By training a “village eye specialist,” we create sustainable change through education – ten or twenty years down the line the village eye specialist, or even a future trainee of that specialist, will be able to diagnose families with trachoma, refer them to the closest health center for treatment of trachoma, and advise them on increasing household sanitation to avoid reinfection.
A volunteer helps to screen community members for eyesight problems deep in the village