WHO statistics reveal that the India has one of the largest numbers of preventable blind people in the world, which means if timely treatment was reached we could have prevented millions of them turning needlessly blind.
The two main causes of blindness are cataract and childhood blindness followed by glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. For the past 28 years the National Prevention of Blindness program and other NGOs have laid emphasis on cataracts and results are that the blindness due to cataract has come down for 80% to 60%, but the childhood blindness has gone up from 7% to 20%.1
Need for a Prevention of Childhood Blindness Program
Though cataract still remains as the leading cause for blindness, the magnitude of childhood blindness is a lot more. By treating a senile patient for cataract, we add maybe 10-15 years of sighted years for him, whereas when we treat a child for preventable blindness we add atleast 60 years of sight life for him. The economic burden to the country due to loss of skilled labour and productivity due to childhood blindness is estimated to be about 6000- 27000US$.2
Orbis International is a non governmental organization in New York that specifically networks with eye hospitals world over in their mission to eradicate childhood blindness. The Lotus Eye Hospital and Lotus College of Optometry have formed a partnership with them to provide quality care at no cost to the slum children of Mumbai. The program was inaugurated on April 1, 2005, by Mr.Oliver Foot President of Orbis International and the occasion was graced by the Dr.G.V.Rao, Country Director of Orbis India and senior trustees of the Lotus Hospitals Trust and the Lotus College of Optometry
In Collaboration with Orbis the Lotus Eye Hospital will set up a state of art pediatric unit on the First floor of the Hospital. The Unit will not only be equipped with all ophthalmic pediatric facilities but is also proposed to be designed with a child friendly environment with play area and colourful surroundings. The human resources will include a highly qualified team of paediatric ophthalomologists from Lotus Eye Hospital headed by Dr.Neepa Thacker. She has completed her pediatric training from Los Angeles, USA. The ophthalmic team will be supported by a team of optometrists from the Lotus College of Optometry.
The welcome address was given by Mr.Navin Shah, the Mg. Trustee of Lotus Hospitals Trust. Mr.Naval Baliwalla, Chairman of Lotus College of Optometry then invited Mr.Oliver Foot to formally inaugurate the program by lighting the ceremonial lamp. Dr. Mustafa Parikh, Medical Director of Lotus Eye Hospital presented on the activities of the Hospital towards community service. The meeting was well attended by NGOs and senior ophthalmologists of the city.
The Outreach program is proposed to begin June 1, 2005 for the slum children of Dharavi. Mumbai is identified to have over 609 slum pockets and Dharavi is Asia 's largest slum estimated to having a population of over 1 million. Dharavi alone is estimated to have over 70,000 children.3 Hence the project will begin with Dharavi then be taken to the other slums of the metropolitan. To achieve the objectives of the project, the College is proposed to network with the Ophthalmic and PSM Departments of the L.T.Medical College and Hospital of Mumbai.
- India report of 2004 following Vision 2020 meeting.
- Childhood Cataract: Magnitude, Management, Economics and Impact by BR Shamanna, L.V. Prasad Eye Institute Banjara Hills Hyderabad 500 034, R.Muralikrishnan, Lions Aravind Institute of community Ophthalmology Madurai
- Statistics from Preventive and Social Medicine department of L.T.Medical College and Hospital, Sion Mumbai.