Across the globe, many suffer from vision loss and/or blindness that could have been avoided entirely. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has made the 13th of October World Sight Day. This is a day for many organisations, such as the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, to come together and work alongside governments and healthcare providers to discuss the importance of curing global needless blindness.
Blindness and visual impairment have emerged as a challenge to public health and the magnitude of global blindness is becoming more and more apparent. It has been estimated that around 253 million people worldwide have some form of visual impairment with more than 36 million completely blind. The majority of the world’s visually impaired are women or the elderly. Within this is also an estimated 19 million blind children.
There are several causes of visual impairment, the main being cataracts. Other causes include glaucoma, refractive errors, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation focuses on the leading cause of blindness which is cataracts. More than 75% of all blindness and eye health issues can be treated and/or prevented. Many organisations, involved in World Sight Day, are leading the way in making these treatments and preventative measures accessible worldwide.
Currently, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation are setting up Outreach Microsurgical Eye Camps in Bhutan as well as Nepal. Since 2009, Bhutan has decreased the number of people suffering from needless blindness by 33%. This was in a mission towards Vision 2020: Right to Sight. This showed the commitment of the nation to the cause. With the new goal of #2030InSight, Bhutan, alongside the Tej Kolhi and Ruit Foundation is set on curing all of Bhutan’s cataract blind population.
What is World Sight Day?
With the IAPB’s World Sight Day approaching, we thought it would be important to participate in raising awareness of what is happening in nations such as Bhutan and Nepal. Intervening in healthcare issues in such countries leads to a major increase in economic productivity and allows for individuals to lead a prosperous life. Across the world, there are 90 million children that have some kind of visual impairment.
This is why one of the IAPB’s key focuses for this year is child eye health. This is due to children with vision impairments being five times less likely to be in formal education which causes poorer socioeconomic status. It is also estimated that 40% of children are blind due to conditions that can easily be cured or managed if the child had access to eye care services.
Another focus this World Sight Day is gender equity. This is because out of the world’s blind population, over 50% are female. This has been caused by women being 40% less likely to access eye health services in comparison to men.
Through the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, we have learnt that in some isolated communities males are held to a higher standard compared to females. Due to the lack of women able to utilise eye services young girls suffering from blindness find it almost impossible to access education meaning they are unable to work and earn a living.
In total there are 1.1 billion people experiencing some sort of vision loss across the world. The majority of these people are suffering needlessly as they simply do not have access to vital eye healthcare. On top of this, around 90% of the world’s blind are living in low and middle-income nations. This global health issue has caused an estimated $411 billion in lost productivity each year.
Together, we can eradicate needless blindness and help lift people out of extreme poverty at the same time. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, alongside many other organisations such as the IAPB, can continue our commitments to support the needlessly blind.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation was founded in March 2021 by London philanthropist Tej Kolhi and Kathmandu ‘God of Sight’ Dr Sanduk Ruit. As of November 2022 the NGO had screened 170,022 patients and cured 22,663of blindness at 91 outreach camps in Nepal, Bhutan and Ghana. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is a restricted fund operating under the auspices of Prism The Gift Fund, registered UK charity number 1099682. The Foundation targets the #1 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of reducing poverty by making large-scale surgical interventions to cure blindness at the grassroots in the developing world. All treatments are provided completely free, with 100% of the funding coming from Tej Kohli and the Kohli family.