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Cataracts causes blindness in rural China

Around 4.5 million people in China are blind or severely visually impaired due to cataracts. Cataracts clouds the lens of the eye, which blocks out light eventually causing blindness. It is a major health problem in China. People from rural areas in China are more susceptible because they are constantly exposed to ultra-violet rays of the sun, which is among the causes of cataracts, and they are often too poor to afford corrective surgery. Cataracts, which often affect older people, cause blindness if left untreated. China has 5 million patients awaiting cataract surgery but only 600,000 are performed a year. There are at least 1 million new cataract cases that crop up each year in China. The total number of cases could balloon to 167 million by the year 2020 because of an ageing population, according to ORBIS, a group that aims to treat and prevent blindness in developing countries. Due to lack of medicinal facilities and purchasing power, people from rural China are affected by cataracts. There also exists shortage of doctors in rural areas of China. There exists a non-profit charity called “Project Vision”, working in China, which aims to treat cataract sufferers in rural China. According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 37 million people were blind in the year 2006 and 124 million had low vision globally. Cataracts was the cause in half of all these cases. “Project Vision” aims to establish 100 “eye centers” over the next few years, staffed by qualified Chinese eye doctors who would be trained to perform cataract surgeries. The aim is for 1,000 surgeries to be carried out each year in each eye centre.

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