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COVID-19 has led to alarming levels of avoidable blindness

Posted on: Thursday, April 7th, 2022

The Coronavirus pandemic is having an alarming impact on the numbers of people living avoidably blind – and when better to bring this to people’s attention, than on World Health Day?

75% of the world’s blindness can be treated or prevented. The challenges accessing eye services or treatments during the pandemic, especially in low and middle income countries, are leading to more people than ever needlessly losing their sight.

Dr Monicah Bitok, CBM Global Inclusive Eye Health Advisor, explains:Monicah Bitok carrying out an eye examination.

“It’s been very worrying to see the impact of Covid. In countries where the levels of blindness were already shocking, they are now even more alarming. During periods of lockdown over the past 2 years some eye health units were closed completely, only dealing with trauma cases. But when these clinics opened, patients were required to be covid tested before they came for surgery. Many of these patients cannot afford the journey in the first place from rural areas to the hospital, so to pay for a covid test on top of journey costs was impossible, and as a result many people missed out on vital sight saving operations. For many the damage has been irreversible”.

Click here to listen to Monicah’s interview on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire (open link in new tab).

Through our current Light up Lives fundraising appeal (open link in new tab) , we’re aiming to scale up our work preventing blindness in the world’s poorest places – and thanks to a group of generous funders, all donations before 28 April will be DOUBLED.

The funds raised will enable people with treatable blindness to see again through sight-restoring surgery, eye treatments and glasses. Click here to find out more about Light up Lives (open link in new tab).

Images: Top – Female patient wearing a face mask whilst having an eye examination, at Kabgayi Eye Unit in Rwanda. Bottom – Monicah Bitok carrying out an eye examination.