Saving Eyesight Through Sightsavers

It is obvious that technology has changed the world in a number of ways. Whether the change is good or bad depends on people’s perspective, but for most people the advancement has been life-changing. In fact, it has opened up a whole new source of cure for illnesses that were once considered incurable.

Take for example, trachoma – an infectious disease caused by a rare type of bacteria in the eye. This disease results in roughening the inner surface of the eyelid, thereby damaging the outer surface of the cornea and eventually leading to permanent blindness. The symptoms are many here, from inward eyelids to itching and diminishing eye sight. The bacteria spreads from person to person directly – through contact – and indirectly – through clothing or air particles. Poor sanitation, crowded condition and dirty water make the matter even worse.

But thanks to technology, now people living in regions prone to trachoma are made aware of this debilitating disease and urged to take precautions as well as medication if necessary. This is being achieved by a successful collaboration of many health agencies, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies, such as Sightsavers. Even countries that have suffered from trachoma for a long time have come forward with plans that would be put into action for their future. For instance, Oman has been successful in eliminating the disease since 2012 and Mexico, Laos and Cambodia since 2017.

Six other countries have been able to get rid of trachoma as well. One of them is Ghana, which is the first sub-Saharan African country to say that they are free of trachoma, according to World Health Organization. How was this possible? The key is awareness through organizations like Sightsavers. If not for them, trachoma would have been considered a global crisis, since its spreading takes a short time because of the bacteria being able to survive in the host for many days. Besides, not much cure is available once the person is infected and is on the verge of becoming permanently blind.

Savesighters has been very vocal in bringing this awareness to the general public through its blogs, social media articles, workshops and ads. The SAFE strategy ( stands for surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, environmental improvement) has worked for all who have heed to the advice. Many public health systems all over the world have followed this suit whether their population is infected with trachoma or not.