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The Fred Hollows Foundation marks National Eye Care Day by celebrating jump in China’s cataract surg The Fred Hollows Foundation marks National Eye Care Day by celebrating jump in China’s cataract surg

The Fred Hollows Foundation marks National Eye Care Day by celebrating jump in China’s cataract surgical rate

China is marking National Eye Care Day and the Vision 2020 campaign by celebrating an eight-fold increase in the country’s cataract surgical rate over the past 20 years.
 
It is Eye Care Day on 6 June in China and the day this year also marks the significant milestone of Vision 2020, a global initiative to end avoidable blindness which finishes this year.
 
During the initiative China has eliminated the blinding eye disease trachoma and significantly improved its public eye care system. The nation is looking into putting more resources into raising awareness of myopia among the next generation.
 
Over 36 million people are blind worldwide and China has the highest burden of avoidable blindness in the world, accounting for 20% of the global total. Cataract remains a cause of blindness and visual impairment in China.
 
Amanda Huang, China Country Manager of global eye health development organisation The Fred Hollows Foundation, says there is an uneven geographic distribution of eye care resources across the country.
 
“While increasing wealth has improved eye health services, about three-quarters of the country’s 30,000 eye doctors work in urban hospitals while up to 80% of blind people in China live in rural areas. Many patients in rural poor areas of China cannot afford the price of simple cataract surgery because it can cost as much as a whole year’s income,” says Huang.
 
Myopia (nearsightedness) is also emerging as a serious health burden for China. The number of students suffering myopia increases from 36% at primary school to 70% of secondary school students and over 80% at university level. In 2018 Chinese President Xi Jinping said the government needed to address the growing problem of myopia among children.
 
Up till the end of 2019, The Fred Hollows Foundation had trained more than 35,000 eye care professionals, screened over 4 million people and provided surgery and treatment to over 2 million people, which has contributed significantly to eye health in China.
 
In the past 20 years, after China joined Vision 2020, the cataract surgical rate per million people has jumped eight times from 370 in 2000, to 3,000 in 2018[1]. China has also eliminated trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world prevalent in areas where there is poor sanitation.
 
Huang says The Foundation will continue to work closely with the Chinese Government under the Vision 2020 framework, through piloting and replicating a comprehensive eye care model, and adopting the approach of community engagement, gender equity and school eye care.

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