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The Gift of Sight

The World Health Organization estimates that cataracts account for over half of all avoidable blindness in Africa and Asia. Of these regions, India bears the greatest burden, there are approximately 15 million blind people in a total population of 1.2 billion people.

Although cataracts can be easily removed, surgical services in India are inadequate, inaccessible and too expensive for most of the rural population.

Since 2004, RRI's "Gift of Sight" program works with local doctors and NGOs to overcome these barriers and provide sight-restoring cataract surgery to rural communities in Rajasthan.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.

The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image a person sees will be blurred. In cataract surgery, the eye's clouded lens is removed, and the eye is implanted with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).