A record 195,406 people received sight-saving eye operations and treatments and more than 1.7 million patients were screened worldwide in 2009 thanks to The Fred Hollows Foundation.
In announcing the impressive figures, the Foundation’s CEO Brian Doolan says he is thrilled by the results which also reveal that the eye charity trained 5,878 eye health workers, including surgeons and provided more than AUD$2.5 million of vital medical equipment.
“Reaching that many people isn’t easy. “Often the people with the greatest need for eye health services live in some of the most remote locations on earth,” said Mr. Doolan.
“To put these figures in perspective, in 2006, we conducted just over 70,000 eye operations. So that’s close to triple the amount of people treated by The Foundation in just three years.”
The Foundation’s 2009 results also reveal that Fred Hollows laboratories in Nepal and Eritrea have now manufactured more than four million Intraocular lenses (IOLs) for use in low cost cataract surgery. The laboratories, which are now independently owned and run, were a dream of Fred Hollows who wasn’t alive to see the laboratory’s open in 1994.
“These IOLs when Fred was alive, used to cost anywhere between AUD$150 to AUD$300 and this was of course too much for most people in developing countries to afford,” said Mr. Doolan.
“Fred asked, ‘Why don’t we make them?’ So The Foundation helped set up these two laboratories and now they’re supporting themselves and manufacturing lenses for around AUD$5, for export all over the world.”
One of the patients who had her sight resorted by The Foundation in 2009 was nine year old My Linh from a province in southern Vietnam. Born with cataracts in both her eyes, My Linh’s vision began to fade by the time she was in grade two.
A new teacher arrived at her school and didn’t know of My Linh’s eye problems. This teacher rearranged the children’s desks and My Linh was seated right at the back. From there, she couldn’t even see the blackboard, let alone read it.
Not wanting to cause trouble, she tried to learn by reading her friend’s book, who had written down what was on the board. As a result, My Linh was accused of copying and was scolded by the teacher. The child was deeply embarrassed and upset, and told her mother she did not want to return to school. By grade three, staying at school was no longer My Linh’s choice as her vision had become so bad.
Through the support of Australian donors, My Linh received cataract surgery on both of her eyes during The Foundation’s Sight for Children campaign. She can now see clearly and wants to study to be a teacher at school.
My Linh’s story is now the focus of The Fred Hollows Foundation’s current Autumn appeal for donations. To find out more about My Linh’s story or to make a donation to The Foundation go to www.hollows.org.au or phone (AUS) 1800 352 352.