Dependency is the unaccounted economic cost of preventable blindness | #2030InSight
Across Nepal, many people live in impoverished conditions, often unable to escape the economic struggle. With the addition of the lack of sustainable healthcare and social structure in rural areas, many are left unable to work due to illness and disease that they are unable to cure. The lack of resources has left thousands of people with untreated cataracts — leaving them needlessly blind. The Tej Kolhi and Ruit Foundation have made it their mission to lead the way to curing this avoidable issue by 2030.
Lalit Bahadur Magar is a 95-year-old man who lives with his grandson in the remote Himalayan outback of Nepal. With one eye irreparably damaged, and the other with a mature cataract, he was completely blind.
His grandsons wife Muna is 40 years old and is tasked with the full time care of Lalit in addition to the responsibilities of looking after her husband, her children and the household. Muna loves Lalit too much to neglect or abandon him at this age, but life is difficult looking after her blind in-law.
Lalit and Muna’s story is a classic example of how needless blindness often impacts not just one person, but entire families and communities. Most of Muna’s time is spent taking care of Lalit. This is the unaccounted economic cost of preventable blindness. “If he could see, I would have one less responsibility and I could contribute to the family’s household income by working in the field, or picking up other odd jobs in the village” she says.
A ray of hope emerged when a screening team from the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation arrived in the village. Muna resolved to take Lalit to the camp.
Lalit was not convinced that his sight could be restored. Muna’s husband also believed that the whole exercise could be futile. The fact that Lalit also suffers from existing mental health conditions did not help.
However Muna was determined.
She left her children in her husband’s care, and brought Lalit to the camp. There, after an assessment by Ophthalmic Assistants from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, Lalit’s was referred for surgery. His surgery was performed by Dr. Sanduk Ruit, global eye health hero, and co-founder of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation. Within seven minutes, Lalit was able to see again.