Blindness is a Gender Issue
More than half of the world's blind people are women and girls. Blindness discriminates.
Here are five reasons why, in every region of the world, women are more likely than men to be blind.
1. Kids can make their mothers go blind
It's mostly toddlers who carry a bug known as trachoma, which causes an infectious eye inflammation.
Women are more likely to stay at home to care for the kids, so they are more than twice as likely as men to be repeatedly infected. Trachoma can make the eyelashes curl inwards and scratch the cornea, causing excruciating pain and blindness if left untreated.
2. Women are less able to get eye health care
In many communities, men control the family finances and the medical needs of males within the family are prioritised. It can also be harder for women to travel because of family responsibilities or for cultural reasons.
3. Women and girls have to care for blind relatives
Preventable blindness doesn't just affect the person who has lost their sight. Women have to do back-breaking work while caring for a blind child. And girls often leave school to care for their adult relatives who have gone blind.
When they miss out on an education, they earn less and cannot break the cycle of poverty.
4. The discrimination starts early
The gap between rates of blindness in girls compared to boys is even higher than the gap between women and men. Most of these girls live in poverty in developing countries where they live in poverty.
If they're also blind, it's almost impossible for them to receive an education and earn a living when they're older.
5. Blindness heightens the risk of dying
An estimated half of all children who become blind will die within two years. Those who survive childhood are only expected to live to 40 years of age.
More girls and women are blind, which means more of them are at risk of dying from blindness.
Preventable blindness has big implications for women trying support their families. That's why correcting vision loss brings the greatest benefits to the poorest families.
If we create more equality in eye care, then we create more equality in life.
When Hoa was told that her daughter Cam was having trouble at school, she was devastated. “I cried day and night and worried so much about my daughter’s future,” she said.
Cam, 7, was born with cataracts. She longed to play with her friends and learn at school, but she couldn’t see the blackboard and would squint in pain when the sunlight hit her eyes.
Even though she was suffering, Cam’s cheeky and stubborn personality was obvious. She was determined to read and would hold a book one centimetre away from her eyes.
Cam was identified for free surgery during a screening camp, and has returned to school to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.
The Fred Hollows Foundation Child Eye Health Program in Vietnam ensures children like Cam aren’t left behind.
This project will:
- Screen 20,411 people
- Support 1,295 cataract operations for children