Cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness and an important cause of visual impairment across the globe. The Vision Loss Expert Group estimates that over 17 million people are bilaterally blind from cataract in the world in 2020, representing 40% of all global cases of blindness. The proportion of blindness due to cataract among all eye diseases ranges from 15% in high income regions to 50% or more in low to middle income countries.
Our supporters are the key to helping us develop life-changing programmes and those that leave a gift in their Will can help us make bigger changes over a longer period of time. One of these incredible gifts left to us was that of Anthony Nicholas John Gilford who left a legacy with a focus on this very issue, Cataracts, and who we could best create a sustainable network of support for those communities most heavily impacted.
In Sierra Leone, despite some recent increases in access to cataract surgical services there is a huge gap in uptake by certain groups of people, especially women, people with disabilities and those living in poverty. A Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) conducted in 2011 and 2021 revealed that cataracts are responsible for more than half of all blindness and vision impairments in the country. It was also noted that cataract surgical coverage for men increased from 28% to 42 % whilst for women on the other hand it decreased from 34% to 33%. It’s also worth noting that post-surgery refraction and dispensing glasses has played a large part in the positive visual outcomes of cataract surgeries, moving from 38% to 53% of successful surgeries.
Anthony’s Eyes is a project in memory of Anthony, ensuring his legacy is the key to lasting change and making sure that the communities have access to this vision saving care. Vision Action is working with the national eyecare programme and the regional eyecare teams in Kenema, Kailahun, Kono, Bombali and Bo to:
1) Increase access to cataract and primary eyecare services in five districts across 3 of the poorest provinces in Sierra Leone.
2) Restore the sight of at least 500 people who are blind or visually impaired due to cataract, through free cataract surgeries and post-surgery eye tests and glasses by end of 2024.
3) Enhance the capacity of the regional surgical teams to provide quality and timely eye health services to local and rural communities.
Leaving a legacy can feel like a big step – none of us want to think about a time when we wont be here with our families and friends, but leaving a legacy to charities, like ours, that create lasting change for hundreds, if not thousands of people is an incredible lasting gift, one that means your impact keeps on living. Legacies can also help your family to know that your remembered – in the eyes of whole communities – and can help with many other aspects of sorting out a loved ones Will and seeing through their wishes.
You can find more our about how to leave a gift in your Will here and get advice through our free service provided by Make a Will Online, all led by fully qualified solicitors and fully funded – we call that a Will win win!