Shining a Light on Global Partners Program

global partners program

When you choose LASIK or Custom Cataract Surgery at Medical Eye Center, you’re partnering with us to provide life-changing cataract surgery for a blind person in great need. We call it our Global Partners Program. For every LASIK and Custom Cataract Surgery performed, your surgeon will personally sponsor one sight-restoring cataract surgery in Nepal, Ghana, or Ethiopia through the Himalayan Cataract Project or Daybreak Vision Project.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, accounting for more than 18 million needlessly blind. While most global health challenges cannot be easily cured, cataract blindness is a striking exception. Cataract blindness can be cured “overnight” with a 10-minute procedure for as little as $25 per eye. For this reason, the World Bank has called cataract surgery “one of the most cost-effective public health interventions available.”

The Facts

  • Life expectancy for people who are blind is only one-third of that for age-matched peers
  • 90% of blind individuals can no longer work
  • 50% report a loss of social standing and decision-making authority

People in developing countries like Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nepal are more likely to develop cataracts due to limited access to quality healthcare, malnutrition, and exposure to ultraviolet rays. Also, cataracts are more common as people age, and life expectancy in these countries is increasing.

There are several reasons why cataracts are not treated in these countries:

  • Lack of access to ophthalmologists: There is a shortage of trained ophthalmologists in these regions, making it difficult for people to get the surgery they need.
  • Lack of infrastructure: There is limited access to surgical facilities and equipment in remote areas.
  • Affordability: Although cataract surgery is relatively inexpensive, it can still be out of reach for many people in these countries.
  • Lack of awareness: People may need to be made aware of the symptoms of cataracts or that they can be treated.

These factors all contribute to the disproportionate burden of cataracts in developing countries.

Cureblindeness/Himalayan Cataract Project

Since 1995, CureBlindness has performed over 1.4 million surgeries in addition to partnering with other organizations to raise awareness and advocate for legislation changes. Cureblindness/HCP supports cataract training programs for ophthalmic teams from all over the developing world at training centers in South Asia and during cataract surgical interventions in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the clinical training, the trainees are introduced to a delivery system that enables high-quality, cost-effective cataract surgery. HCP also uses outreaches to train local ophthalmologists on cornea transplant surgeries when possible.

By training field health workers (known as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in India and Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) in Nepal), HCP has created a system of first responders who can screen and provide first aid for eye injuries and illnesses. Many of these community health workers live and work in remote areas where access to eye care did not exist. As of 2023, more than 900 community health workers have been trained, resulting in 100,000 patients screened. Data shows that these health workers have successfully treated over 50,000 men, women, and children with corneal abrasions.

Daybreak Vision Project

The Daybreak Vision Project was founded in 2020 by John Welling, Adam Schanz, Jon Mangum, and Jason Wernli, lifelong friends with deep ties to Africa. In 2019, Dr. John Welling joined his now-partner, Jon, to join Adam for an HCP cataract outreach in Cape Coast, Ghana. Together, with a dedicated team of Ghanaian surgeons and nurses, they provided 740 sight-restoring cataract surgeries.

Grateful for HCP’s gracious response, Dr. Welling informed them of his intentions to start a new eye care non-profit with Adam, Jon, and Jason. They were able to chart a path forward where both HCP and Daybreak, operating as distinct entities, could work in coordination toward the shared objective of sight restoration in Ghana. In June 2021, Daybreak and HCP partnered on their first joint outreach in Koforidua, Ghana.

Both Daybreak Vision and Cureblindness Himalayan Cataract project, aim to restore sight to people in need. Daybreak Vision does this by providing free cataract surgery to people in Nepal, Ghana, or Ethiopia. Cure blindness works to eradicate avoidable blindness in developing countries by giving sight-restoring surgeries and building local capacity, primarily in the Himalayan region. However, both work collaboratively and continue to raise awareness globally.



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