Cataract is responsible for nearly half the world blindness and 90% of the people with unoperated cataracts live in developing countries. IEF addresses cataract through its sustainability initiatives creating highly efficient and productive eye clinics and hospitals that can exponentially increase the number of patients they see and operate year on year.
Trachoma is an ancient, infectious disease found in dry areas of the world where there is a lack of water and hygiene. Blinding malnutrition is found in countries where children are malnourished and do not get enough foods rich in vitamin A. Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease that affects millions of people living in Latin America and Africa. The microscopic worms are passed from person to person by flies. The worms flourish under the skin and can invade the eyeball leading to destruction of the delegate structures of the eye and blindness.
IEF addressed trachoma, vitamin A deficiency, and onchocerciasis through mass public health and child survival programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. As we reoriented our programming in the 1990s to focus on sustainability planning and build capacity of eye care institutions, we moved away from the large public health programs except for onchocerciasis control and childhood blindness. In Africa, IEF treats nearly one million people in Cameroon every year with their annual dose of Mectizan® to destroy the tiny worms so they cannot reach the eye and cause blindness. Our child blindness programs support pediatric eye units around the world to increase their capacity to find, treat, and rehabilitate children with blinding eye diseases.