"For the last year, Pradip’s study was affected, he was unable to see properly," said the mother of seven-year-old Pradip Tigga. She and her family live in West Bengal, India. "My husband works in the tea gardens as a daily wage worker, so it was really hard to take Pradip to private hospital because of the financial problems. But now, he is back to school and now he can play, read and walk without anybody’s support. It’s our wish that he is a good student and literate, successful person."
In 2012, Pradip received a pediatric-cataract surgery and free treatment as a result of LCIF and Bausch + Lomb's Pediatric Cataract Initiative (PCI) grant to Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital in West Bengal. Through the PCI, the hospital is the recipient of one of six projects awarded around the world since 2010 to improve their local capacities to detect, treat and follow-up with the often complex pediatric cataract cases.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of babies around the world are born with or develop a cataract in one or both eyes. This condition can lead to severe vision loss – or even blindness. But not only is pediatric cataract treatable, it’s often preventable.
Bausch + Lomb and LCIF began a partnership through the PCI in 2010 to identify, fund and promote innovative methods of overcoming pediatric cataract for the long-term benefit of children, their families and their communities. Bausch + Lomb awarded LCIF US$350,000 in the pilot year to launch this partnership program, and has awarded an additional US$350,000 to continue the program for a second year.
In the first year, a total of three grants were awarded. One grant for innovative, capacity-building prevention and treatment programs in the People’s Republic of China. In China, at least 40,000 children are estimated to suffer from pediatric cataract (representing nearly 20 percent of China’s 200,000 blind children). Funds of US$150,000 were awarded to the Tianjin Eye Hospital for treatment, ophthalmologist training, equipment and community education. Two additional grants of US$50,000 each were awarded to for small research projects, one at Lumbini Eye Institute, Nepal, and the other at Calabar Teaching Hospital, Nigeria. In Nepal, researchers studied the cost and effectiveness of a cataract surgery follow-up program. In Nigeria, researchers conducted what is believed to be the first large-scale study of the root causes of childood blindness in Africa. The study found that two-thirds of children screened needed referral follow-up care.
In the second year, the partnership awarded three additional grants: two research grants of US$50,000 each and one capacity-building grant for US$150,000. The two reearch grants were awarded to ORBIS, a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. ORBIS will assess the pediatric cataract surgical service in Southern Africa, informing and enhancing existing activities to strengthen pediatric eye care units at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in South Africa and Kitwe Central Hospital in Zambia. The second research grant was awarded to the International Centre for Eye Health for a five-year community-based follow up of children in Bangladesh to assess surgical outcomes.
View a video about PCI's sight-saving efforts Nepal.
For more information, visit the Pediatric Cataract Initiative website.