The Fred Hollows Foundation recently screened 2726 patients for cataract blindness in Rwanda and restored sight to 73.

The majority of these screenings took place at Gisenyi Eye Clinic, which is The Foundation’s base for activities in Rwanda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Outreach screenings also took place at health centres in the Rubavu District, as well as in the remote districts of Ngororero and Nyabihu.

The Foundation has been working in Rwanda since 2006 - to enhance the capacity of eye health personnel and to deliver and manage eye health services.

Today, The Foundation is continuing to build infrastructure in Rwanda and provide clinics with the equipment necessary to bring adequate eye care services to some of the country’s most disadvantaged regions. Construction recently began on a new eye clinic in the Ngororero District of Rwanda which, once completed, will service a population of around 318,000 people.

In 2006, a Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) survey was conducted to assess the country’s baseline prevalence for blindness and vision loss.

In this survey, a total of 2,158 individuals aged 50 years and over were examined. The findings indicated a prevalence of blindness in people aged 50 years and over of 1.6%.

Cataract accounted for 66.7% of all causes of bilateral blindness. Posterior segment disease (including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration) is the second cause (18.0%) and corneal scarring is the third.

Other key findings were that the outcome after cataract surgery was relatively poor with the cause being equally likely to be due to uncorrected refractive error, surgery-related complications or a concurrent cause of blindness.

The findings also indicated that the most common barrier to overcoming avoidable blindness was that patients were unaware of what was causing their condition and that it could be treated. More than half of people examined complained of night blindness and lack of access to presbyopic glasses was also a major complaint.

Find out more about our Rwanda program.