A Gift of Sight
Cataract is one of the most common causes of blindness that affect many elderly people in Vietnam. It can be safely treated with surgery to restore sight and improve the quality of life of those who suffer from this condition. However, many elderly people in Vietnam cannot afford the cost of cataract surgery, which averages about $50, and therefore suffer from loss of sight as a consequence.
In response to this need, SAP-VN began the cataract surgery program in 2005 with the goal of providing the ‘gift of sight’ to the poor and elderly population in Vietnam who could not otherwise afford this surgery. SAP-VN established collaborations with ophthalmologists and hospitals in Vietnam to pilot the project in the first few years. After assessing where the needs are high, we entered into partnership with the Can Tho Eye & Oromaxillofacial Hospital, who perform all the surgeries and we sponsor all the costs associated with the procedures. Our associates in Vietnam work with local health officials to identify areas with high incidences of cataract and arrange for screenings of possible candidates to receive the cataract surgeries.
Selected patients are operated at local district hospital and stay overnight to be assessed the next day by the surgeon. In the past years that we have had this program, we have had excellent results for the patients as indicated by post-op assessments on the day after surgery. Vision tests performed after the second day post-surgery showed that a majority of patients reported being able to see well. No patients experienced complications or infections.
Prior to being discharged from the hospital, each patient is given an eye care package, which includes eye medications and post-op care instructions. SAP-VN also supplements this package with a small monetary gift. In addition to that, a few weeks after the surgery, patients are invited to return to a local clinic or a hospital to have their operated eye(s) re-examined by an eye care professional. The recoveries have been very positive with most of the patients reporting significant improvement in their vision.