Allie Stryker 2012-12-11 00:17:41
Saving Children’s Vision, Saving the Future It all started when Ruma Roy was 7 years old; she could not see well. Her parents thought she would outgrow the problem, but Ruma’s vision only grew worse. Ruma had trouble seeing the blackboard at school, causing her grades to plummet. “Ruma needed to be escorted more frequently,” says Amal Roy, Ruma’s father, who earns just $2 per day as a part-time carpenter and rickshaw puller in India. “We had no idea where to take her, and our financial condition was so weak that we could not even think of taking her to any local doctor.” With Ruma’s condition continually worsening, one of Amal’s friends suggested taking her to the Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital, where a Pediatric Cataract Initiative grant was helping the hospital treat children like Ruma. Ruma was diagnosed with pediatric cataract in both eyes. Similar to the disease in adults, pediatric cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, impeding the passage of light. Cataract occurring in children can be caused by genetic orpre-natal infections such as measles, influenza, rubella and other diseases. Pediatric cataract is one of the primary causes of childhood blindness worldwide, especially in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, 1.4 million children worldwide are blind, with three-fourths living in Asia and Africa. That is why Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Bausch + Lomb partnered in 2010 to create the Pediatric Cataract Initiative. Led by a global advisory council of pediatric and eye health experts, the initiative identifies, funds and promotes innovative methods of overcoming pediatric cataract.Together, Bausch + Lomb and LCIF provide capacity building grants to organizations and facilities interested in improving their service to children and communities. Through the Pediatric Cataract Initiative, Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital received a $150,000 grant to build a dedicated early detection and treatment program for pediatric cataract and children’s eye health. This includes the training of local ophthalmologists, as well as eye health education for local teachers, primary care givers and other community health workers. The grant allowed the Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital to invest in new optical equipment and conduct outreach events in the area to screen the vision of 130,000 underserved children in West Bengal. Sight-restoring cataract surgery and long-term follow-up care was also provided for 200 pediatric cataract patients such as Ruma. “Identifying children afflicted with pediatric cataract requires close partnerships between community health officials and ophthalmologists because children often cannot realize or report when they have any visual problems,” said Kamalesh Guha, chief executive officer of Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital. “This grant will make a huge difference in the lives of children afflicted with cataract and other eye diseases.” The positive impact of the Pediatric Cataract Initiative grant is already being felt both at Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital and within the Roy family. “Ruma is now independent and she says that she is able to see much better,” says her father. Thanks to her surgery and the Pediatric Cataract Initiative, Ruma and many more children are seeing a world of difference. Learn more about LCIF’s partnership with Bausch + Lomb by visiting www.lcif.org or www.pediatriccataract.org.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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