Ending avoidable blindness
Fred Hollows had a vision of ending avoidable blindness. With the help of our partners and supporters, The Foundation is working to make Fred’s vision a reality.
An estimated 39 million people around the world today are blind. Four out of five don't have to be.
Simple interventions, such as inexpensive medication and surgery, can restore people’s sight, productivity and livelihoods, giving lasting benefits for individuals, their families and whole communities.
Half of global blindness is caused by cataracts – a clouding of the lens of the eye that can be treated by a simple surgical procedure – and the World Bank has identified cataract surgery as one of the most cost-effective of all public health interventions.
The Foundation focuses on the comprehensive treatment of cataract blindness, but we also tackle other causes of blindness, including trachoma and refractive error.
Since its formation in 1992 The Foundation has helped restore sight to well over 1 million people.
Who needs our help?
Most people who are blind (approximately 90%) live in developing countries, where malnutrition, inadequate health and education services, poor water quality and a lack of sanitation lead to a high incidence of eye disease and an entrenched cycle of poverty and blindness.
Alleviating blindness is an effective way of alleviating poverty in the developing world.
In Australia, the standard of health – and eye health in particular – in some of our remote Indigenous communities can be compared to standards in developing countries.
Around two-thirds of the world’s blind people are women – women live longer than men, are more likely to develop cataract blindness and vision loss, and less likely to receive treatment – and 1.4 million are children under the age of 15.
Children and blindness
- Childhood blindness needs to be treated early. Children over seven years of age who have been blind all their life often won't respond to surgery because their brain's ability to recognise visual stimuli hasn’t been used.
- More than half will die within a few years of going blind, either from the condition that caused the blindness or from inadequate care as poverty-stricken families struggle to look after a disabled child.
- Around 40% of childhood blindness can either be prevented or treated with simple interventions, such as vitamin supplements, immunisation and low-cost eye surgery.
The Foundation helps people to help themselves
Our aim wherever we work is to build capacity at all levels, from village health centres to regional hospitals and national ophthalmological networks.
We train local doctors and health workers, build and upgrade facilities, and provide equipment in order to achieve long-term sustainable eye health care.
Like Fred, we believe in working through partnerships with individuals, communities and governments.
Like Fred we believe in speaking out when we see a need, and one of our key roles is advocacy in support of our vision of a world where no one is needlessly blind.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has been a driving force in the development and implementation of blindness prevention programs in some of the poorest and most isolated regions of the world.
Today, we operate programs in over 19 countries throughout Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, and we work extensively with remote Indigenous communities in Australia.
Millennium Development Goals
In September 2000, all Member States of the United Nations recognised their "collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at a global level".
The result was a United Nations Millennium Declaration, and world leaders adopted a set of eight Millennium Development Goals to be met by 2015.
The Foundation’s work towards ending avoidable blindness and improving Indigenous health is helping to achieve many of the Millenium Development Goals.
The eight goals are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development.
We have also been directly involved in the Millennium Villages Project commissioned by the United Nations in sub-Saharan Africa. The Foundation provided eye health care as part of this development project, which works directly with local villages to develop solutions to eradicate poverty in order to demonstrate the relevance and effectiveness of the Millennium Development Goals.
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