Over the next two months, The Fred Hollows Foundation will screen more than 4,000 people in some of the most difficult-to-reach parts of Lao PDR.
As a result, The Foundation expects to perform at least 360 sight-restoring cataract operations and a further 115 procedures on people with eye disease who would otherwise not be able to see again.
These outreach camps are taking eye care to communities in 18 districts of Lao PDR’s remote and hilly north. It is estimated that there are 30,000 people living with blindness and 6,000 new cases each year. Frequently these people have poor sight as a result of cataract, which can be easily treated.
Many people in Lao PDR do not receive treatment for eye problems because they do not know it is available and cannot access services or afford the operation. The outreach camps, which will provide free treatment, help to overcome these hurdles.
In the lead-up, The Foundation is working closely with the Government of Lao PDR to promote the eye camps as widely as possible. District nurses, eye health workers at local clinics and village volunteers are working together to raise awareness. The camps are also being advertised on local radio and by other NGOs.
People attending the temporary units will have their eyes checked for conditions including cataract and refractive error. The Foundation also expects to provide 310 people with glasses to correct their sight.
Blindness and poor sight make it hard for people to work, go to school and look after their families.
Through these eye camps, The Foundation is helping communities improve their standard of living by returning people to productive work and allowing children to reach their full potential.
Last year alone, The Foundation performed 3,344 sight-saving and improving interventions in the four northern provinces of Lao PDR.
The Foundation is expanding its work into six new provinces this year.