Restoring Sight, Restoring Lives in Haiti


Community Health

When a membrane developed on Anne Marie Moreau’s right eye,  she couldn’t see well enough to continue her small business making and selling beaded bags.

With her husband slowly recovering from an accident and unable to help her provide for their six children, her loss of income began to affect her family’s well-being. And without money coming in, Anne Marie couldn’t afford treatment for her condition.

But things turned around for Anne Marie when she met a doctor supported by Alcon, a medical company specializing in eye care, who did surgery on her eye, restoring her vision. She is able to work again.

This World Sight Day (today) we celebrate Anne Marie and the more than 100,000 people in Haiti have improved vision with help from a collaboration formed in 2012 between Alcon Laboratories, the Haitian Society of Ophthalmologists, and Direct Relief.

The joint program provides cataract and glaucoma surgeries and other essential eye care procedures – free-of-charge – to  thousands of people who are blind or have impaired vision in Haiti. In 2012 alone, more than 72,000 patients were seen and over 6,700 surgeries were performed.

This collaborative partnership works with six eye care facilities in Haiti with the goal of cutting treatable blindness in half over the course of the next three years. It is especially needed in Haiti as the country has one of the highest rates of blindness or reduced vision due to cataracts in the Caribbean region, with estimates ranging from 40,000 to over 60,000 people suffering from the disease.

The six participating facilities, including the University General Hospital in Port au Prince and University Justinien Hospital in Cap Haitian, are now able to provide the high quality eye care for their patients that had not been possible in Haiti prior to the start of this program.

This partnership has  garnered over $7 million (wholesale) worth of eye care supplies and equipment from Alcon Laboratories, comprising a wide array of materials that are essential for treating cataracts, which typically require surgical removal and replacement of the eye’s lens.

Additional materials remain in Direct Relief’s warehouse in Port au Prince to be distributed to the over 100 visiting surgical eye teams supported by Alcon every year who provide essential eye care and surgical eye procedures to residents in more rural areas of the country.

Instead of bringing the bulky materials with them when they fly to Haiti, these ophthalmologists and eye doctors are now able to access the surgical items they need when they arrive into Haiti from Direct Relief’s warehouse.

By providing these essential items to hospitals around the country and the visiting surgical teams, people in Haiti like Anne Marie Moreau can live healthier, more productive lives with better access to free, high-quality surgical eye care.

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