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Najim (16) from India walking out of cataract surgery.

Najim (16) from India waiting nervously before her cataract surgery.

What are cataracts?

In most cases, cataracts are clouding of the lens of the eye which prevents clear vision. Many people become legally blind from untreated cataracts, and cataracts can even cause total blindness if left untreated for long periods or if people cannot access affordable eye care and surgery.

Who does it affect?

90% of people who are visually impaired live in developing countries. About 20 million people in the world are blind from cataracts – and
the majority of these people live in developing countries.

Most cases of cataract are in adults. However some children are born with the condition, or a cataract may develop after eye injuries, inflammation and some other eye diseases.

Can it be treated?

Cataract can be surgically removed and this is very successful in restoring sight. The opaque lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens. In many remote parts of the developing world, people remain blind from cataract due to a lack of access to eye care.

What’s the impact?

Najim (16) from India walking out of cataract surgery.

Najim (16) from India walking out of cataract surgery.

A cataract is a leading cause of low vision and blindness in both developed and developing countries. But this could be avoided with treatment. Approximately 80% of vision impairment globally is considered avoidable. This means that people could get their sight restored if they just had access to treatment.

What would it be like to get a cataract here in Australia?

Cataract surgery here is covered by Medicare. So if you were to form a cataract all you’d have to do is join the hospital waiting list. You’d pay little to nothing and potentially wait for 6 – 18 months. Plus, if you can’t work during those months there is a web of government support structures available to assist you.

What’s it like to get a cataract in a poverty-stricken country?

Medical issues like cataracts usually go untreated, leading to permanent damage and blindness. These people lose their vision and have no medical resources to tell them why. A disability like this leads to job loss or dropping out of school, affecting the whole family. This leads to more people becoming vulnerable to extreme poverty, to fall deeper into the poverty cycle.

But $33 is all it takes for a person to be gifted life-saving eye surgery. Join us tomorrow for Miracles Day and you could make miracles happen and give someone their sight back.

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