The gift of sight
Eye Health The vast majority (82%) of the world’s blind are aged 50 and over, and sadly age-related cataracts – which can be easily treated – are responsible for more than half (51%) of world blindness.
In developing countries, where most older people have to keep working into later life to earn a living and many are caring for grandchildren or other relatives, the loss of eyesight has a significant impact on independence, income and self-esteem of older people.
Although a cataract operation takes just 30 minutes, millions of older people around the world cannot access the service due to cost. Older people might never have had an eye test; they might not be aware of the symptoms of cataracts; or they may believe that sight loss is an inevitable part of ageing.
When Haji, a 70-year-old farmer in Zanzibar, lost his sight due to cataracts in both eyes, he was unable to keep working. He went for help at a nearby hospital funded by Age International, where they diagnosed him and arranged a cataract operation.
After the operation, Haji said: “I feel much better now. I won’t be dependent on others in future. I’ll be able to work on my farm and look after myself.”
Providing eye care to older people in developing countries is an important part of the work of Age International, a charity that supports older people living in some of the world’s poorest countries. For more information about the charity’s eye care work visit www.ageinternational.org.uk/cataracts