Fred Hollows’ dream was to end avoidable blindness. He wanted to bring eye care to the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. Like him, The Foundation believes that “every eye is an eye” and we can make a difference to the lives of others.
Eye diseases like cataract, trachoma and diabetic retinopathy can lead to permanent blindness when these conditions are often treatable or preventable. Cataract surgery, for example, has been shown to improve quality of life and general health.
It can increase mobility and enhance people’s ability to perform everyday tasks. It is known to help reduce pain, depression and anxiety for those who have suffered with poor or impaired vision. Additionally, restoring vision can have exponential economic benefits.
These include improved productivity, workforce participation and education. Surgery recipients can take better care of themselves and contribute more to their family and community.
As a result, access to quality eye care and ensuring all patients receive effective treatment outcomes is particularly important to us. But like all surgeries, treatment is not without risk.
While we believe the benefits of sight-restoring cataract surgery far outweigh the risks for most people, short-term side effects can include bruising, discomfort, and swelling of the eyelid. There will sometimes be a need for glasses too.
The Foundation takes the issue of quality outcomes seriously, measuring its success in terms of visual acuity (the ability to distinguish shapes at a specific distance), as well as benchmarking against the World Health Organization’s standard for good cataract surgery outcomes* in developing countries.
To ensure we further minimise risk and provide best quality outcomes, we work with our partners around the world, who deliver the surgeries, to help build and strengthen health systems for eye care.
We assist them to attain best possible local practice when it comes to clinical quality. That is no different whether we are in Australia, Vietnam, or Eritrea.
Where we find an issue, or the local partner needs assistance, we provide training and support, to identify and implement improvements.
We strive to have active continuous improvement programs in the hospitals we work with and the partners we support. To that end, we have created a Cataract Quality Improvement Program (CatQIP) as a comprehensive way of improving quality.
We have quality champions in each of our offices, who focus on ensuring best practice, and have implemented a solution to manage serious untoward incidents and provide better patient care.
To further improve our surgical outcomes, we are strengthening our clinical quality governance framework, which will help ensure the quality and safety of our programs and achieve improved outcomes for patients.
* The WHO standard is set at 80 per cent good, 15 per cent borderline and 5 per cent poor for cataract surgery outcomes in developing countries.