Which cause needs the most attention? Who is the most needy of the lot? Where will my money make the most impact? These are the kind of questions I am sure come to each and every one of you as you think about donating. Based on our experience, education and instinct, we tend to prefer a particular cause over another. Some may choose to support education, others the elderly, or maybe even the disabled. Every cause is important and they all need their due attention. However, to answer the question accurately, it is vital for donors to have all the required information. What exactly is the problem? How many people are affected by it? What can be done to help? What can one do to alleviate this problem?
To address these relevant issues, I will talk about one specific cause each month and help you understand more about the same. The cause that I have selected for this month is Cataract.
So what exactly is cataract? Let me try and explain with visual examples. Isn’t it annoying, when heavy rain blurs your windshield? Or when a hovering mosquito finds its resting place on your TV screen? Surely you would prefer an uninterrupted view in these situations. This is the plight of a person affected by cataract. The lenses in our eyes are made up of water and protein. As we age, the protein may come together and cloud the lenses. This clouding is known as cataract. By the age of 75 most people have cataracts that affect vision.
In India, there are about 7 million people affected by this condition. However, it is curable and doesn’t have to be endured. So why are so many people rendered helpless by it? There are plenty of reasons, ranging from lack of access to lack of awareness about the condition. But the primary cause for the prevalence of this condition has to be the incapability of the affected to afford expensive surgical procedures. A cataract surgery generally costs about Rs.15,000 depending on the city and the type of cataract. These high rates are beyond the reach of some unfortunate people, who are then forced to live with their disability. The elderly are considered useless without their eyesight and are incapable of even doing household chores. Hence, most of them do not get the support they need, which makes life expectancy after cataract severely low.
Thankfully some NGOs, with the help of donors, have made the treatment available at subsidised costs. These procedures are now available for less than Rs. 2,500. The work done by these NGOs has gone a long way in spreading awareness and alleviating the problem. One such remarkable NGO that deserves mention is the Aravind Eye Hospital. What makes this organisation different is that only 30% of its patients pay and they pay lesser than what they would pay elsewhere. The remaining 70% are treated almost free of cost. The most astounding fact is that they yet manage to make 35% operating profit; which is then utilised in the expansion of the organisation.
Many organisations like Aravind Eye Hospital, have made it their personal mission to eliminate the effects of cataract. In order to make their efforts a success it is important for us to understand the significance of this cause and not turn a blind eye to it. With the right amount of support, every person affected by cataract shall be able to avail appropriate and timely treatment.
Disclaimer: Dhaval Udani is the CEO of GiveIndia which is running a campaign for providing cataract surgeries to 200 poor & elderly folks.