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More than 90% of blindness in Cambodia is avoidable. People are blind because they are poor, and poor because they are blind. Many people either can’t afford the operation or don’t know it’s available to them.
Unfortunately, eye care services are still limited in quality and availability, particularly outside the urban centres, and there is a huge shortage of government funding available for eye care activities. Furthermore, there is inefficient equipment and consumables for service provision at eye units and referral hospitals.
It is estimated that uncorrected refractive error accounts for up to 10% of blindness in Cambodia. Insufficiency of services, personnel, training institutions and affordable glasses are the main contributing factors to uncorrected refractive error.
A key outcome of the project is the establishment of 12 vision centres over the life of the project (2013-2017). The centres will be established at district and provincial hospitals where it has been identified that no eye care services currently exist.
The vision centres will increase access to eye care services and streamline patient referral to provincial eye units for further management and treatment. This increased access to services will reduce rates of uncorrected refractive error and avoidable blindness.
The Cambodian Ministry of Health will provide a room at each hospital to establish the centres as well as fund the ongoing staff and utility costs.
The refurbishment, furniture, equipment, tools and ongoing maintenance, including 200 pairs of spectacles, will be provided by The Fred Hollows Foundation, in collaboration with project partners.
In 2017, this project aims to:
Thanks to the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation, the prevalence of blindness has declined by 68% since The Fred Hollows Foundation began working in Cambodia in 1998.
This project has already more than doubled the number of refractionists and established a good foundation for establishing sustainable refraction services in Cambodia.
Continued investment is required to ensure sustainable and high quality services reach those most in need.