The Fred Hollows Foundation in Cambodia has partnered with the Ministry of Health, and already achieved amazing results. 

On 5-7 March 2018, The Foundation offered up to 500 free eye treatments through its partner eye units in Phnom Penh and seven other provinces. This included up to 300 cataract surgeries.
Cataract operations are relatively quick and inexpensive, yet cataract remains to be the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide. Women are 1.3 times more likely to be blind than men. Around 20 million women are blind, and a further 120 million are vision impaired.
In developing countries like Cambodia, blindness is both a cause and effect of poverty. 90% of blindness is avoidable in Cambodia, mostly due to cataract. However, many people either cannot afford the operation or do not know it is available to them. Thus, tens of thousands of Cambodians are unable to work to support themselves and their families because they are blind.

Doctor performs on patient

Hok Vern's story

Hok Vern is a 60-year old rice-farmer and grandmother who lives 60 km away from Siem Reap. She used to work on the farm and take care of her children. However, she became unable to work when her vision deteriorated due to cataracts in both eyes.

This had been her condition for nine years, and the people she once took care of became the ones who look after her. Her 15-year old granddaughter took regular breaks from school just to take care of her.

At an eye camp organised by The Fred Hollows Foundation, she was given a second chance to fulfill one simple wish: to see her family again and stay happy. After a successful operation, she can now see again and go back to work.

Happy patient after cataract surgery
The economic and emotional burden her family carried for almost a decade was lifted, and she can now live a happy and independent life.
Like Hok Vern, it is common for women in Cambodia to fulfill dual roles as both the breadwinner and caregiver in their family. Their huge contribution to Cambodian society is undeniable.
The impact of restoring someone’s sight is enormous, especially for women like Hok Vern.

The Foundation reaches out to women like this, so that they’re given a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Do you want to learn more about why blindness is a gender issue? You might want to read the following stories:

Five Ways Eye Disease is Keeping Women Out Of Work

Three Women Out Of The Darkness

Why Is Blindness A Gender Issue?