When people think of cataracts in Africa, they often imagine older people in need. And it’s true the disease usually affects people 80 years of age and older, but younger people also suffer from eye cataracts, including thousands of children.
What is a Cataract?
Cataracts is a progressive disease of the eye(s) that is the leading cause of blindness in Africa. This is especially true in Mali due to prolonged exposure to sunlight, constant dust from sandstorms, and malnutrition.
Cataracts are debilitating for the entire family, because when one family member develops them, they become dependent on others to assist them with their daily activities. This is tough enough when it’s an older person, but when younger people in the family develop the illness, the problem only exacerbates. This in turn leads to multiple family members being unable to work, further perpetuating their region’s extreme poverty. Below are a few personal stories of young cataract patients Embrace Relief has had the privilege of treating.
Mariam Togola, 9 years old
“Two years ago, I began to have blurry vision in my right eye, and it was getting worse every day. I was told that I had cataracts and that if I did not get surgery, I would eventually go blind. This terrified me. I didn’t want to not be able to play, see my friends or family, or live in darkness. Thank you Embrace Relief, I can clearly see the faces of my mom, dad, and little sister again.”
Kaditou Toure, 39 years old
“For years, I was not able to walk on my own, wash myself, or see the faces of my husband and child. Now, I have regained my independence and reclaimed my life! Thank you for showing me kindness. I can now see the beautiful world again and all of its colors.”
Abdoulaye Traore, 14 years old
“I remember I began to lose my peripheral vision in my left eye and things got really dark and blurry. Not long after, I could only see shadows and my right eye was starting to hurt from straining it from so much use. I was so happy when I saw the Mobile Health Clinic because I knew they would help me! I can’t wait to see the world with both eyes again. Thank you.”
Eye cataracts don’t only affect people 80 years old and older. Due to the living conditions in areas of Africa, including Mali, people of all ages suffer from the debilitating disease and require cataract surgery. Thankfully, it’s an easy, painless, and short 10 minute procedure, and life is forever changed for the better after receiving the surgery.
How You Can Help
Since 2013, our volunteer doctors have performed nearly 60,000 health checkups and 3,700 cataract surgeries with our Mobile Health Clinic, which visits remote areas of Mali lacking basic healthcare service. We also operate the Mali Medical Center, which provides medical equipment to the Clinic Gaoussou Fofana and Clinic Planet Vision in the capital city of Bamako, Mali. With your $100 donation, we perform one cataract surgery and 15 health checkups. So, by donating today, you will give back the gifts of sight and health to thousands more people in Mali—of all ages—so they can live long, fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities.