Visualiza’s National Eye Care Plan Targets Critical Shortage
Age-related or congenital cataracts and untreated refractive errors aren’t the only causes of treatable blindness in Guatemala. They’re just the most common.
Here’s a quick run-down of some of the rest:
- Undetected glaucoma;
- retinal detachment;
- macular degeneration;
- tissue growth over sun-exposed eyes;
- traumatic accidents; and
- diabetic complications.
These ALSO steal sight from Guatemalans of all ages.
Ten-year-old Guadalupe Noemi Gomez Rojas couldn’t remember a day without blurred or double vision, constant eye strain, and headaches. She suffered crossed eyes and congenital cataracts.
But there are no Vision Centers or Eye Care Hospitals in Guadalupe’s community. She lives with her mother and five siblings in a one-room, dirt floor house in one of Guatemala’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
Visualiza’s “Little Windows of Light ” program (the only in-country eye care outreach service screening children ages 5-15 in low-income areas and public schools) identified Guadalupe’s need and arranged for her transportation, surgeries, and eyeglasses.
That same year, the program evaluated 35,000 similarly impoverished children and ended up donating 1,140 pairs of eyeglasses and performing 110 no-cost surgeries.
Guadalupe and her peers are growing up fast and will need continued care. Locating a new Vision Center in her area will help meet that need.
The Real Scale of Need
Guatemala is the most populated country in Central America with 18 million people. The total number of Guatemalan men, women, and children suffering blindness or moderate-to-severe visual impairment compares poorly with that of the United States.
According to the International Association to Prevent Blindness (IAPB), there are 5x the number of persons blind in Guatemala by percent of total population than in the United States. Likewise, Guatemalans suffer 3x the comparative visual impairments per total population than found in the United States.
Visualiza’s work as the only private, self-funding, locally-controlled eye care network, combined with fee-based national hospitals and non-governmental missions, alleviates but a modest portion of this suffering. This is evident in nationwide eye care response statistics.
Our Guatemala National Eye Care Plan partner, Seva Foundation, shows that Guatemala has:
- 8x fewer cataract surgeries per million people than in the United States;
- 4x fewer cataract surgeries per million people than called for by the World Health Organization for Guatemala’s total population;
- And 4x fewer ophthalmologists per million people available to perform those cataract surgeries and medical follow-ups than in the United States.
Our Guatemala National Eye Care Plan will make high-quality care available to every man, woman, and child in Guatemala – regardless of ability to pay – by 2032.