HelpMeSee, a global campaign aiming to end the blindness caused by cataracts, has launched an effort to identify and eradicate pediatric cataract blindness in Peru. This campaign is being developed in partnership with Instituto Damos Visión (IDV) and USAID’s Child Blindness Program.
Cataracts are currently responsible for over 50 percent of all cases of blindness in Peru, mostly resulting from inadequate medical services. This cooperative program between HelpMeSee, IDV, and USAID aims to extend the screening and treatment of children with cataract blindness.
“We are proud to be part of USAID’s Child Blindness Program, especially in Peru where thousands remain needlessly blind from this condition,” Dr. Van Charles Lansingh, HelpMeSee’s Medical Officer for Latin America, said in a news release. “Through the remarkable work of our partners at El Instituto Damos Visión we will be able to address one of Peru’s most critical health issues.”
During this campaign, HelpMeSee will utilize its latest screening and care methods, including HelpMeSee Reach, a smartphone app that contains a Global Positioning and Patient Information System integrated with Google’s Android platform. A number of health agents and volunteers from the IDV region will be trained with the technology and use it to identify young cataract patients. Staff from HelpMeSee and IDV will then install a pilot program near the capital, Lima. The gathered data will determine the patients in need of care and will also be used to establish a national data base of pediatric blindness.
“USAID’s Child Blindness Program (usaid.gov/childblindness) is excited to provide support to HelpMeSee and their innovative and far reaching work in Peru,” said Liliana Riva, program manager of the USAID Child Blindness Program. “Our grant process is highly competitive with each project fully vetted for organizational competency and project effectiveness. We are thrilled HelpMeSee is joining us as a key collaborator in our global efforts to reduce avoidable blindness in children and vulnerable populations.”
El Instituto Damos Visión (IDV) is a private nonprofit organization supporting poor and vulnerable children up to age of 14 in Peru. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through its taxpayer-supported Child Blindness Program, has brought eye care to over 3 million children worldwide.
A cataract is a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in reduced vision. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts cause moderate to severe disability in 53.8 million people worldwide, most of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.