This girl from the Gununo village of southern Ethiopia was diagnosed with corneal blindness through the ORBIS Comprehensive Rural Eye Care Project. She was referred to Menelik II Hospital in the capital,
Addis Ababa, for a cornea transplant.
Menelik II Hospital is home to the National Eye Bank of
Ethiopia — the country’s sole eye bank providing transplant tissue to help patients like this. The eye bank was established with the support of ORBIS in 2003.
Ethiopia, cornea-related eye problems are the second leading cause of blindness. A national survey conducted in 2006 found that more than one million Ethiopians are blind and nearly 3 million have low vision. Nearly 20 percent of those who are blind and nearly 15 percent of those with low vision have corneal disease.
Most cases of cornea-related vision loss result from the long-term effects of the infectious disease trachoma. However, more than a half-million people have cornea-related vision loss from other causes. Corneal blindness affects mainly the young and those of middle age, especially women, resulting in blindness during the normally productive years and beyond.
Cornea transplants can cure corneal blindness. However, the number of corneas available in
Ethiopia is small. Cornea transplants are possible at only one facility in the country, and only one surgeon is qualified to perform these transplants. Corneal blindness in
Ethiopia cannot be significantly reduced unless more transplants are performed.
To achieve this, ORBIS is working with the national eye bank to raise public awareness of the need for corneal donation. ORBIS is also strengthening the eye bank’s ability to harvest more corneas and train more ophthalmologists to perform cornea transplants.
By the end of 2008, ORBIS expects to achieve the following:
- A significant number of ophthalmologists will be trained to perform cornea transplants
- Technicians, counselors and social workers will be trained or their skills updated
- An adequate supply of corneas will be available through increased corneal procurement
- More quality corneas will be processed and distributed for transplantation
- Millions of Ethiopians will be made aware of the importance of corneal donation
- The eye bank in
Ethiopia will achieve self-sufficiency and be considered a world-class institution
You can help
Cornea transplants in
Ethiopia would not be possible without the financial support of caring people like you. Blindness in
Africa can be prevented. Please give generously so that others may see.