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TOMS Purple Gisele Ballet Flat
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Thirty miles may not seem like many, but when it’s a 2,300-foot climb that snakes its way through numerous rivers, breathtaking highlands and rocky roads, that trek can be a perilous one. The team from TOMS Sight Giving Partner Seva Foundation makes trips like these regularly through Nepal to help bring professional eye care to villages that may otherwise be overlooked.
Last winter, Seva Foundation journeyed to Dhankuta, a tiny town in the hills of the eastern region of Nepal. Prior to the team’s arrival, Seva’s Nepali staff spread the word through community leaders, local volunteers, teachers and even a local radio broadcast about the eye camp that would be set up to provide services. When the eye care team arrived, people were already waiting in line, eager to receive care.
The path to get to that camp is not an easy one, not for the eye care staff nor for those who live outside of that village, who traveled their necessary distances to receive eye care. To get there, or to other mobile eye camps, patients and their families often walk many miles, sometimes for days, crossing treacherous rivers and walking dangerous, unpaved roads. One patient, 70-year-old Gyaljun, had the help of his wife and son, who carried him the entire journey so he could receive cataract surgeries in both his eyes.
After surgery, he shared joyfully, “Now I can see with both eyes!” For the first time in over a year, he was able to see his wife clearly. “I can see her now, and she is beautiful.”
Eye care professionals examined more 500 patients over the three-day course of that mobile eye camp’s establishment. The team provided new prescription glasses and medical treatment, and they performed nearly 100 cataract surgeries. Hundreds of patients left the camp with restored vision, and, for those like Gyaljun, with newfound joy.
Through the collaborative efforts of every individual who supports TOMS Eyewear, we’re able to help our Sight Giving Partners reach communities in some of the most remote corners of the globe with professional eye care treatment. Thank you for contributing to making that happen.
—From the TOMS Blog—
Looking through the window nearly two years ago, Sanh Sorng, 71 from Cambodia, noticed that everything he saw was blurry. The vision in both of his eyes was deteriorating and everything looked like it was filtered through a smoke-like screen.
Upon visiting the Battambang Eye Unit and receiving a full eye exam, he was told he had cataract in both eyes.
Cataract is the leading global cause of blindness, responsible for 51% of vision loss worldwide. Cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye, which can cause a blockage in the passage of light. It results in blurry vision and if left untreated, can cause blindness.
It is likely that if we live long enough, we will all develop cataract due to the natural changes of the eye’s lens. In the United States, cataract is typically identified as people age and is operated on before people become blind. But in low-income countries, cataract and resulting blindness are far more prevalent, as many people can’t afford or access professional eye care services.
“The loss of sight has a deep economic and social impact on the lives of individuals, their families and communities,” shares Dr. Chundak Tenzing from Seva Foundation. “Fortunately, blindness due to cataract can be treated.”
With the TOMS Sight Giving model, eye care professionals are able to provide a full eye exam and if there is a cataract, surgeons remove the cloudy natural lens and replace it with a new artificial lens. The surgery takes about 15 minutes and vision is restored almost immediately.
When Sahn Sorng’s bandages were removed the day after his cataract surgery, he stood up and moved slowly, but confidently with his newly restored vision.
“Now I can see through the window. The cloud has gone away!” he shared excitedly. “I can go to pagoda and the rice fields, and I am especially happy I can see the faces of my family members again.”
Thanks to a TOMS Eyewear purchase, Sanh Sorng was given the surgery he needed. Sight-saving and restoring surgery is one of three ways Sight Giving works. For a deeper understanding of how you’re helping support Sight Giving through surgery, prescription glasses, and medical care, take a look at this album on our Facebook page. One for One.
*Source: WHO/Vision2020.org, 2011
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