See the world better: Eyecare in Africa
When the sun is out, the first thing we want to do is get outside. Sunscreen on, sunglasses in hand. It’s become a normal part of our style choices, but it’s important for us not to forget that shades hold a more important purpose in protecting our eyes from the sun. Over exposure to UV rays is a serious issue over time. Not only can it cause skin cancer, but it can also significantly affect our eyes. Too much UV light can help cause cataracts, macular degeneration, growths called Pterygium and types of cancer. According to the Association of Optometrists, ‘Over time, damage can cause growths on the eyelid, it can make the eye less white and less smooth, and more lumpy and yellow, or cause tumours on the eyelid. UV damage can also lead to cataracts, impairing vision. Good eyecare is essential!
The World Health Organisation states that 65 million people suffer from cataracts and up to 20 per cent of them may be caused by over exposure to UV radiation, and are therefore avoidable. This is especially prevalent for people living in developing countries where there may not be the infrastructure, awareness or accessibility needed for good eye health. Nearer the equator, in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the amount of UV light is higher and so too the chances of damaging the eyes.
Where do we come in?
Pala Eyewear has been working with Vision Aid Overseas (VAO), an international charity, to help improve eye care in Africa since the early days. VAO aims to help people living in poverty to access affordable glasses and eye care. This is done by setting up Vision Centres, by training new professionals and through outreach work. The Vision Centres setup by VAO can also tint prescribed glasses to provide UV protection, sell affordable sunglasses and raise awareness about the need to protect your eyes from too much sunlight. Over 3200 affordable sunglasses were given out between April 2018 and April 2019, at centres setup by VAO. Currently VAO has over 3000 pairs of donated sunglasses in stock that will be sent out to each Vision Centre. Any of our Outlet styles that do not sell will also be donated, to continue helping to protect eyes across Africa.
According to the World Health Organisation, restoring sight is one of the most cost-effective health interventions to reduce poverty. This also includes preventing poor eyesight from developing in the first place, which is why sunglasses are essential. Before reading this article, did you know how damaging UV rays can be on the eyes?
If you are involved in any other projects that help to protect eyes around the world, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email on [email protected] to share your story and see what we can all be doing to help!