The World Health Organization’s first World Report on Vision reveals that at least 1 in 7 people across the world have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed. More than 2.2 billion people globally are visually impaired, and more than 1 billion people are living with vision problems because they do not get the care they need.
The problem is aggravated by the spread of COVID-19. The economic downturn has made it even harder for visually impaired and blind patients to afford simple operations and treatments.
The sight of 13-year-old boy Alexcis from the Philippines has deteriorated and he has become more and more quiet and withdrawn.
For the past two years, the 13-year-old has determinedly gone to school, but can only sit in class and listen.
Cataracts in both eyes have left him unable to read and write. The family started to realise there was a problem.
When Alexcis eats he has to feel where the plate is and where the food is. He can no longer see it.
The family’s home on Siargao Island is a three-hour boat ride from the mainland city of Surigao del Norte where the nearest eye surgeon works. The family can barely afford the transport cost and the surgery.
Fortunately a school health workers, who had been trained by The Foundation, and arranged a screening for Alexcis.
The family was elated that Alexcis' eyes could be treated with two simple 40-minute surgeries. All the costs were covered by The Fred Hollows Foundation.
Once they arrive at the hospital Alexcis eyes are checked and he’s taken into surgery.
When the patches are removed and the nurse checks his eyes, it is clear he can see well.
When he leaves the hospital Alexcis looks around excitedly, pointing out all of the things he can see – the sky, the birds and the green fields. "I can see everything now!" he says.
"I am excited to go back to school.”