Risk factors in developing countries
Prolonged exposure to UV-B radiation, found naturally in sunlight, increases the risk of developing cataracts. Those people living in agrarian societies who spend much of their time outdoors, without sunglasses, are at increased risk of developing cataracts earlier.
Cigarette smoking also poses a risk of cataracts. This is an important factor in developing countries, where cigarettes are marketed without health warnings or government-sponsored education as to the health risks. Government-sponsored regulations on smoking are practically non-existent in the developing world.
Prevention of cataracts
Although there is no way to completely prevent cataracts, reducing smoking, lowering alcohol consumption, avoiding eye trauma, and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light can help delay their development.
Treatment of cataracts
Cataract treatment involves removing the clouded lens from the eye. The optical error that results may be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or, most commonly, by the implantation of an intraocular lens (IOL). Cataract removal is a quick, cost-effective operation and has a success rate as high as 98 percent.
What ORBIS is doing about cataracts in developing countries?
To help reduce the backlog of cataract cases in developing countries, ORBIS is:
Training local eye care personnel in adult and paediatric ophthalmology in both rural as well as urban areas
Strengthening existing health care infrastructure
Teaching appropriate cataract surgical techniques