Rotary Clubs help provide eye care to poor people living far from cities and others in need of treatment.
This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Almost 40 years ago, a community service organization started providing eye care in Gujarat State, in western India.
The Rotary Club of Navsari operates an eye hospital and 9 area eye centers in and around the Navsari District. Rotary says its services are for the poorest people. The group opened the hospital, the Rotary Eye Institute of Navsari, in 1970. Institute officials say India has only about one ophthalmologist for every 120,000 people. The Institute, however, has ten such specially trained eye doctors.
The Rotary Eye Institute of Navsari has restored or improved the eyesight of thousands of patients. Many people with eye problems cannot easily get to a big city for examinations and treatment. They live in villages far away and have no transportation.
The Rotary Eye Institute established eye centers called camps in places far from the city. Teams from the institute travel as far as 150 kilometers to see patients. People go to their nearest camp, where medical workers examine their eyes. The workers look for conditions including glaucoma, night blindness and other problems.
Some people are found to have cataracts, abnormal growths on the eye that can lead to loss of eyesight. Hospital officials say India has about 13 million people with the condition. Cataract patients get free operations to correct the problem. Doctors also examine them for other medical conditions. Rotary groups also operate eye banks.
Doctors at these centers replace damaged eyes with the healthy eyes of donors who have just died. One such center is the Rotary Rajan Eye Bank. It operates in cooperation with the Rajan Eye Care Hospital in Chennai. The Eye Bank opened in 1996. Hundreds of patients have received new corneas from donors since then. The cornea is the clear front part of the eye that transmits light.
Hospital officials say 2 million people in India are blind because of problems of the cornea. The Rotary Rajan Eye Bank holds continuing eye donation campaigns. It urges people to leave the gift of sight to others when they die.
And that’s the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com.