In 2013, HRH The Countess of Wessex - in her role as Ambassador for the international Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) – visited Qatar with the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. Her knowledge, passion and commitment to preventing blindness worldwide captured the hearts and minds of businessmen and dignitaries alike.
In October 2015, The Countess joined Orbis on a follow-up visit, during which she cemented the relationships they had been developing with key organisations. On World Sight Day of that year, the Qatar Fund for Development pledged $8 million to put Qatar Creating Vision into action.
Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex commented:
“I am delighted that the State of Qatar has cemented its commitment to this cause with the announcement of the “Qatar Creating Vision” initiative. This support will enable us and our partners to have significant impact on our mission to eradicate avoidable blindness in the developing world. I am deeply indebted to the State of Qatar for its willingness to join with us in this sight and live saving work.”
Qatar Creating Vision will enhance the high quality surgical and medical services of 11 children’s eye centres in India and eight in Bangladesh to treat conditions such as cataract and glaucoma. The partners will also work in schools to test the eyes of children and provide glasses to those who cannot see the blackboard, as well as educate communities about the signs of blindness and how to respond should they experience symptoms. Orbis will also establish a specialist centre in Bangladesh, to tackle Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye condition which affects premature babies.
A refractive error is a very common eye condition that occurs when the eye cannot clearly focus on objects. Light will no longer bend the correct way through the eye and will leave the sufferer with blurred vision. This is sometimes so severe that it causes visual impairment. Glasses can be prescribed to improve vision.
Retinopathy of Prematurity is a disease that occurs in premature babies. Abnormal blood vessels grow within the retina, which is a layer of nerve tissue in the eye that enables us to see. This growth can cause the retina, which is the light sensitive portion of the eye, to detach, leading to blindness. Laser treatment and cryotherapy can help to treat this condition.
Cataract occurs when the lens of a person’s eye becomes clouded. Over time the cataract becomes denser, making it harder and harder for the sufferer to see. This continues until they become blind. The cloudy lens can be removed through a 15 minute procedure. Cataract can affect both adults and children and are the leading cause of global blindness.
Glaucoma occurs when there is a build-up of pressure within the eye, which causes damage to the optic nerve. Without treatment can result in a loss of vision or even blindness. Glaucoma can be managed via eye drops, laser treatment and surgery.