Operation Eyesight Universal (OEU), a Canada based International Development organisation dedicated to eliminate avoidable blindness, has plans to spend four million dollars in India this year for sight restoration and blindness prevention activities. Of this, two million dollars would be distributed as aid to the Little Flower Hospital at nearby Angamally in Kerala to upgrade its existing facilities and their secondary hospital at Koonammavu and set up five vision centres, Pat Ferguson, President and CEO of the organisation, said today. Ferguson and OEU Vice Chairman, Raju Paul, are currently in Kochi to take part in a two-day workshop of the organisation’s partners in India. OEU has 17 hospital partners in India, including the Little Flower hospital and Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital at Siliguri in West Bengal. Four hospitals in kerala are being supported by OEU. Last year, the Little Flower hospital had screened 175,848 outpatients and performed 16,670 surgeries.The Siliguri hospital also caters to the districts of Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri, parts of Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, Lalitha Raghuram, Country Director-India, OEU, said. Last year,60,000 eye surgeries were performed in India by the organisation, she said. OEU has presence in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana and Rwanda and through its programmes has treated more than 35 million people worldwide, Ferguson said. According to the organisation, 8.5 per cent of the people in India are visually impaired. Out of this, 25 per cent of the blindness can be prevented or treated. Unemployment rates among the blind have been estimated at 90 per cent and closer to 100 per cent in rural areas, Linda, Vice President, Overseas operations, said.

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