Vision for Change: Addressing Eye Health Challenges

In Pakistan, there are 570,000 adults grappling with blindness due to cataracts. This is the most common cause of avoidable blindness in the country with 51.5% of the blind community burdened with it. Additionally, 11.77% of citizens in Pakistan have type 2 diabetes mellitus, with 29% of those people experiencing diabetic retinopathy (DR), an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. Lions saw the magnitude of this problem in Pakistan, and knew it needed to be addressed. 

The Lions of District 305-N2 received a SightFirst Grant of US$131,463 from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) to develop infrastructure and expand diagnostic and treatment services for cataracts, uncorrected refractive errors (URE) and DR at the hospital of Khyber Eye Foundation (KEF). KEF was established as a charitable hospital in 1998. On average, KEF examines approximately 54,000 outpatients, organizes 18 outreach camps, and performs cataract surgeries on 5,500 individuals each year. Approximately 8,000 people with diabetes are examined and managed by their medical specialist or diabetologist each year. In addition, KEF monitors glaucoma patients and performs glaucoma surgeries. Each year, KEF also diagnoses approximately 900 patients with glaucoma, performs multiple surgeries, and offers treatment using topical eye drops.  

KEF is also dedicated to addressing these illnesses at an early age to ensure children are not burdened with the stress of vision problems. They run a school-based screening program for children ages 6 to 10. The program includes free eye exams to identify refractive errors and other eye conditions, free eyeglasses, referrals to KEF for students in need of further treatment, and education on avoidable blindness and personal hygiene. KEF has an optical workshop that provides a range of prescriptions for school children and paying individuals with URE. Between 2008 and 2016, KEF performed 17,118 refraction assessments and distributed 12,402 spectacles. Last year, 80% of patients who received a cataract surgery had good outcomes, so Lions are hoping to expand on that success to serve more people in Pakistan. 

The LCIF grant will enable Lions to purchase the equipment necessary to conduct eye exams and treat cataracts, URE and DR. This includes a new argon laser, since KEF's current one has not been functional for the last three years, and will allow staff to reinstate laser treatments for DR patients. With this investment in equipment, Lions will ensure tens of thousands of people across the country never suffer from vision loss. 

Through this impactful grant funding, Lions in Pakistan will reach people dealing with diabetes-related vision impairment, cataracts, and more. Their efforts will prevent blindness and restore sight, offering patients a renewed chance to see.  

Learn more about how Lions and LCIF work to improve the lives of the visually impaired and those suffering from diabetes.