Blindness and vision impairment are major international public health issues. Around the world blindness from chronic conditions is rising as the world's population is aging and people are living longer.
An estimated ninety percent of blind people live in low income countries where there are significant barriers to eye health care. Yet many of these conditions leading to blindness can be easily and cheaply treated or cured.
Timely intervention is key.
One of the leading advocates for, and providers of, such care is UW Madison Ophthalmologist Dr. Suresh Chandra. Dr. Chandra is the Chairman of Combat Blindness International, an organization he founded after realizing most conditions leading to blindness in countries like India, Indonesia and Kenya could be treated with Vitamin A and cataract treatments, far less expensive treatments than high tech surgery.
Headquartered here in Madison, the organization has funded 170,000 cataract surgeries and helped more than 30,000 children. It's also opened free community eye care clinics here in Madison.
Dr. Chandra's an amazing guy. But he's the first to deflect attention to the importance of supporting blindness prevention programs. So that's what we're trying to do with this editorial in support of World Sight Day this Thursday.