Saving sight in India

There’s a classic Hollywood thriller about the frightening pursuit of an elusive thief. National Glaucoma Awareness Week from 11 June features the theme Glaucoma: the Thief of Sight. It is all too accurate. The frightening reality is that glaucoma usually leads to blindness but so often goes undetected. Although glaucoma remains incurable, medical treatment proves effective. When detected and treated early enough, blindness can be prevented.

That is why Siloam Christian Ministries began a vigorous fundraising campaign for medical equipment which saves sight. Siloam projects include the Siloam Thomas Eye Hospital in India which provides eye care for all, especially the very poor. Many underprivileged people, including those suffering from leprosy, go blind because of untreated glaucoma.

Technology plays an important role in saving eyesight. One specialised piece of equipment, a nerve fibre analyser, is capable of detecting the early onset of glaucoma. This enables timely treatment which can prevent blindness.

This nerve fibre analyser cost £18,300. Over the months, individuals in Britain have generously contributed. Realising this goal proved a tremendous encouragement to hard working hospital staff. On 23 April, a time of thanksgiving marked the inauguration of this new sight saving equipment. The well attended launch of the Glaucoma Awareness Programme looks forward to saving sight for numerous people.

"Now the hospital can use this high-tech analyser to help many patients who are too poor to pay for treatment," explains Siloam UK Director Richard Norton.

"This state-of-the-art equipment is the only one of its kind in South India. That means the hospital’s up to date facility will attract other patients who can afford payment. This self-sustaining innovation will provide more funding for treating those unable to pay."

India remains a country where up to 8 per cent of the population suffers from glaucoma – a compelling reason to catch this thief of sight.