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Fighting cataract blindness in developing countries

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Cataract & blindness

A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. Early in the development of the age-related cataract the power of the lens may be increased, causing myopia. The following gradual yellowing and opacification of the lens may reduce the perception of blue colors. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss and are potentially blinding if untreated.

The age-related cataract is responsible for 48% of world blindness, which represents about 18 million people, according to the World Health Organization. In many countries surgical services are inadequate, and cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness.


In western societies the standard procedure of cataract removal is phacoemulsification with intraocular lens implantation. However, the low income countries of Asia have developed their own method of manual cataract removal called SICS (small incision cataract surgery) which provides very good outcome as well. The most famous training centers of SICS are the Lahan Eye Hospital (Nepal), the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (Nepal) and Aravind Eye Hospitals (India). An integral part of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology is the Fred Hollows Intraocular Lens Laboratory, where inexpensive, high quality intraocular implants are produced.


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