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India shoulders the most substantial burden of blindness in the world with 15 million blind people, cataract being the primary cause. Bihar is the worst hit with a backlog of 650,000 blind and 4.3 million visually impaired people and is also the poorest amongst the major states. Additionally, 100,000 people become blind every year due to aging. WHO estimates that over a decade (2010-2020) the cumulative impact of Blindness and visual impairment in India is $162 billion. People with low visual impairment suffer from poverty, malnutrition, non-availability of education, economic and social isolation. These cascading effects affect the blind and their families and ultimately the community at large. Timely intervention can restore the sight of most of these people. The size of the challenge to eradicate curable blindness in Bihar is enormous as the current capacity to perform eye surgeries (approx. 190,000 p.a.) is woefully short, not easily accessible or affordable for the poor.
WHO has recognized and recommended cataract surgery as one of the most cost-effective healthcare interventions, and the economic impact on livelihood restoration has been demonstrated to be phenomenal. Cataract surgery is well documented as the safest, fastest and prompt intervention to restore livelihoods and uplift the poor from poverty. With over 4.3 million visually impaired people in Bihar, the indigent people will necessarily need to be reached and identified. The most viable solution is to restore eyesight via quality cataract surgeries for the needy patient. Due to the poverty and backwardness of the patients, they need to be served on zero revenue basis. Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital is spearheading the eradication of curable blindness in Bihar. It now plans to make significant scale and extraordinary impact to eradicate treatable blindness by increasing its capacity from 65,000 to 80,000 free sight-restoring surgeries.