Cataract formation is a slow and gradual clouding of the lens of the eye caused by a build-up of proteins in the lens that occurs normally with age. Vision becomes progressively cloudy and blurred and, if the cataract is not treated, eyesight is eventually lost. Other early symptoms may include sensitivity to light, double vision in one eye or needing a change in reading glasses.5[5.p1a]
Cataracts are extremely common and cataract formation is the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide.1 However, cataracts are treatable and eyesight can be fully restored with surgery during which the eye’s clouded lens is removed and replaced with a clear synthetic lens. Modern cataract surgery is quick (patients are usually discharged from hospital on the same day of the operation) and success rates are very high. Vision is restored in approximately 98% of people undergoing the procedure.3[3. p1a, p2a]
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to cataract surgery. Particularly in over-burdened state hospitals, waiting lists for treatment can be long. Consequently, many people, and especially the elderly, may unnecessarily continue to live with poor vision. To help address this need, Alcon is partnering with the NPO, Right to Sight, in the Second Sight Project. This life-changing project provides free cataract surgery to approximately 500 needy community members to restore their vision and their quality of life.
Right to Sight strives to assist people who have had challenges accessing treatment for their eyes. Alcon shares their vision and the common goal for what remains of 2016 is to focus on the important need to improve access to cataract surgery. “As the leader in eye care, we are very proud to continue in our long-term commitment to social responsibility and work through partnerships, to provide access to innovative eye care technology for the poorest in our society”, explains Christian Wieszner, General Manager of Alcon South Africa.
To support this worthy cause, Alcon has not only given Right to Sight start-up funds to the value of R100 000 but has also supplied a significant amount of their surgical and medical eye care products. Through the judicious application of these resources, Right to Sight will be able to help even more people regain their vision.
This is not the first year that Alcon has formed partnerships to increase quality, efficiency, and accessibility of eye health services in areas where access to treatment has been limited. As a company that believes in giving back to the community, it has contributed to similar drives for several years and has been pleased to see the positive results of such initiatives. Each year, more and more people’s quality of life is improved, and to date Alcon, their partners and the affiliated doctors who give freely of their time have helped thousands of people restore their sight and avoid preventable blindness.
- World Health Organization. Visual impairment and blindness 2010. http://www.who.int/blindness/data_maps/VIFACTSHEETGLODAT2010full.pdf?ua=1. Accessed 14 November 2016.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Eye Institute (NEI), Age-Related Eye Disease Study – Results. Accessed 31 October 2016. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/amd/background
- Harvard Health Publications. Considering cataract surgery? What you should know. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/considering-cataract-surgery-what-you-should-know. Accessed 15 November 2016.
- Unite for Sight, Module 1: Why Eye Care is Important, Accessed 31 October 2016. Available at: http://www.uniteforsight.org/community-eye-health-course/module1
- Cleveland Clinic, Cataracts. Accessed 31 October 2016. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/cole-eye/diseases-conditions/hic-cataracts
Disclaimer: Some of the references are not Alcon South Africa approved websites and may contain information different to what is approved locally.