Prevent Blindness is an organization that was founded way back in 1908 and originally focused on blindness in children. They have already declared 2022 to be the year of children’s vision, and every June they continue their campaign to prevent blindness at all ages with “Cataract Awareness Month.”
“Cataract is very common and affects more people than any other eye disease. The good news is that vision loss from cataract can be restored with treatment. We encourage everyone to learn the facts about cataract and the steps that can be taken to see clearly,” said Jeff Todd, the president and CEO of Prevent Blindness.
What can you do to help those who can’t afford surgery?
Cataract surgery these days is such a simple procedure that it’s one of the easiest eye surgeries to provide for those who cannot afford it on their own. Programs such as Mission Cataract USA (from the Volunteer Eye Surgeons Association) provide free cataract surgery for those who have no health coverage or resources to spend on eye care.
Internationally, where surgery may be difficult or impossible to obtain locally, many doctors make the occasional pilgrimage to countries like Haiti, Pakistan or India to set up for a few days and provide some free services. With cataract surgery it doesn’t take long to help a lot of people.
You can start your own donation on websites like GoFundMe, GlobalGiving, Charity Navigator, Care.org, Mercy Corps, or Universal Giving. Or you can always use the classic pickle jar on your front desk technique to raise money for cataract surgeries and programs. Maybe even include a credit card option: “Would you like to add one dollar to your bill to provide cataract surgeries for those that can’t afford or access them?” Just like Amazon: You can also create a portal so that part of a patient’s payment goes directly to your charity or the charity of your choice.
To make it even easier, here’s an example from the Al Mustafa Welfare Society, an organization that provides health services in Pakistan. They’ve created a donation drive on GlobalGiving called “Free Cataract Surgeries of 1000 Poor Patients.” Put out that pickle jar or make a Facebook post.
What can you do to spread cataract awareness?
Besides traveling abroad — which thankfully we can do now, so maybe take your next vacation to India and see the Taj Mahal while you’re at it — you can educate your own patients. I don’t need to tell you the signs, prevention, and how easy surgery has become for cataract, but most patients aren’t aware of the simple ways to prevent and detect a potential cataract, such as sunglasses, vitamin C, and general health and wellbeing.
Many more may remember the days when cataract surgery was more complicated than a simple incision — and how things have changed. For more facts about cataract, Prevent Blindness has a PDF on their website called “Facts & Myths About Cataract” that debunks some common myths.
During Cataract Awareness Month, clinics can begin by posting simple facts about cataract: Make a post on your website or Facebook page to help flood the internet with cataract facts.
And regardless of the official month, you can always find a daily occasion to inform your patients about proper cataract prevention and care.