1 in every 7 people worldwide are living with vision loss because they lack access to care.
Some 43 million of them are blind. Yet many of them didn’t have to lose their sight. A staggering 90% of all vision loss is preventable or treatable.
But there are far too many people whose sight is diminished or lost entirely because they lack access to care. For low-income people around the world, the spillover effects of blindness and vision loss can be comprehensive and devastating, impacting children and family members’ ability to learn, form friendships, earn a living, and to remain safe.
Helen Keller Intl partners with communities and local health networks to improve their ability to provide high-quality eye health services to children and adults without access. We train, equip and provide ongoing support to clinicians to ensure that people at greatest risk receive the right support at the right time to preserve or restore their vision, giving them the opportunity to discover and reach their true potential.
“Every child has the right to be well-born, well-nurtured, and well-taught.”Helen Keller
Our co-founder Helen Keller lost both her sight and hearing as a young child. With the right help at the right time, she learned to communicate and defied expectations about what was possible for a deafblind person. Even more extraordinary, she went on to help people around the world, showing them that they too could discover their potential and do amazing things with their lives. We are guided by Helen’s vision and determination.
Poverty’s negative impact on vision
Children in low-income families around the world often go without vital nutrition and vision care. Families without a safety net, living in poverty are more at risk for poor eye health because of poor nutrition and lack of access to basic healthcare.
A child who cannot see in the classroom will struggle to keep up in school, make friends, and develop self-esteem. A mother afflicted with a disease resulting in blindness will tax a whole family and put the greatest pressure on her daughters, who may be forced to defer their education and devote their time to household duties and caring for family elders. An elder with cataracts can face isolation and depression, find herself unable to work, resulting in financial hardship. Family life can be upended by a single member facing vision loss and blindness. And over time, families suffer the ripple effects of lack of education, unstable livelihoods, and more.
In Africa and Asia, we reach millions of children and adults to prevent diseases like river blindness and trachoma, to distribute critical nutrients like vitamin A, and to provide timely care for vision disorders like cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Around the world, including here in the United States, we partner with schools and community-based organizations to provide vision screenings, eye exams and prescription glasses for vulnerable children and adults.
In 2021, we enabled clear vision for millions of children and adults
- Despite COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, we screened nearly 82,000 children and adults around the world and provided nearly 10,000 people with prescription glasses.
- In the United States, we screened nearly 8,000 individuals in some of the countries most vulnerable communities. More than 50% of those screened required and received free prescription eyeglasses.
- In Bangladesh, we screened nearly 8,400 patients for diabetic eye disease, of which 12% required and received treatment.
- We partnered with governments to distribute nearly 30.6 million vitamin A capsules to children under the age of five to support clear vision and a strong immune system.
Help us ensure millions have access to good health, clear vision, and sound nutrition.