Squint patient Hakeema with her mom in Ghana

Tackling the backlog of cases to save children's sight in Ghana

Hakeema's eyes pointed in different directions — and they shook when she was in the light. To this 22-month-old girl from Ghana, the world was a scary place. Remarkably, a 25-minute surgery by an Orbis Volunteer Faculty member restored Hakeema's vision.

See how your support is helping to save sight for kids like Hakeema… and how that support is crucial in tackling the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

Protecting Children From a Lifetime of Blindness

Hakeema is one of the thousands of children in Ghana who have experienced vision loss or blindness. Approximately 6,300 children in the country are blind due to avoidable causes. With only three trained pediatric ophthalmologists in Ghana, the need for children's eye health services is immense.

In 2014, Orbis began partnering with Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), in Ghana's most populous region. Before that, the country had no pediatric eye care services available.

Thanks to Orbis supporters, sight-saving screenings and treatments have transformed the lives of Ghanaian boys and girls over the last several years. But many more are still in need — so the work to help children like Hakeema continues.

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed critical eye care that so many children are counting on. We don’t yet know what the legacy of COVID-19 will be for eye health in Ghana and around the world. Initial reports show that the urgent need for care remains as strong as ever.

Hakeema’s mother

Before the surgery I was afraid. What if some­thing goes wrong? But it was suc­cess­ful. Thank you very much for the good work you are doing.”

Celebrating the Progress Supporters Make Possible

Thanks to your support, the eye health community has made great strides in Ghana. Orbis's partnership with local teaching hospitals is crucial to saving sight now and for years to come.

Eye teams are trained in techniques that they will use to restore vision to thousands of children over the course of their careers. Your generosity also supports regular screenings for school children, much-needed equipment, and eyeglasses.

During the Flying Eye Hospital's visit to Ghana in 2019, more than 100 eye health professionals received training. Orbis Volunteer Faculty shared their specialist skills and passion to strengthen the work of the eye health teams.

We are so grateful that you share our vision and for your continued support. Together we will clear the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

The photos below, taken before COVID-19, show highlights from the successful Flying Eye Hospital's 18-day trip to Accra, Ghana.

The Flying Eye Hospital Goes Virtual

While the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital will be unable to travel this year, we are expanding our Virtual Flying Eye Hospital projects. Thanks to your support and the hard work of our Flying Eye Hospital team, we've been able to pivot our in-person training sessions and take our sight-saving work online.

Training is already being planned for eye care professionals in Ghana, with a focus on pediatric blindness. Your support is making it possible for Ghana's eye teams to hone their skills to save sight — and to clear the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

Visually Impaired Children Cannot Wait Months to See

For many children around the world, where they were born still determines whether they can see the blackboard in school... the rooms in their home... or the faces of the people they love. That's why getting training to eye care teams in countries like Ghana brings us one step closer to a world without avoidable blindness.

The need is urgent now more than ever. Many children in Ghana have been waiting months or years for vision-restoring treatment. Our teams are working hard to clear the surgical backlog of pediatric cases that have developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, your support puts us on the right track to win the fight against avoidable blindness in children!

Our teams in Ghana have created the first register of all known children in Ghana who have retinoblastoma. This is a type of cancer that occurs most often in children under the age of five. If left untreated, retinoblastoma can have devastating consequences. It can lead to the loss of an eye or even death. This register is vital to help the children and their siblings combat this hereditary disease.

Together with your support, we will continue training local doctors — and provide sight-saving surgeries for children in Ghana.

For Hakeema and Other Children, the Future Is Bright

Hakeema is shown here with her mother and big sister, a few days after surgery in 2019. Hakeema—and kids like her—have a brighter future thanks to you!

Despite the debilitating eye conditions little Hakeema faced, she has received so much more than her mother thought possible.

Hakeema will be able to develop her motor skills normally as she grows.

She can now play confidently with the other kids.

Her world, which was getting increasingly confusing and darker, has suddenly become clearer and brighter.

And it’s thanks to you that our teams can do this great work in Ghana!

SAVE A CHILD'S SIGHT

Please help a child see their world clearly with a gift today.

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