Blindness Prevention Program



Blindness prevention is the primary concern of DCI’s founder, Dr. Ehsan Hoque. Dr. Hoque was born in Bangladesh with congenital cataracts, and was at risk of becoming blind as a child. His family was fortunate enough to be able to provide him with the necessary treatment. With his eyesight intact, Dr. Hoque began looking toward those who were less fortunate, and wondered why so many children had to become blind from preventable causes and the lack of simple treatment. Feeling like he had been given a priceless gift, Dr. Hoque began to educate people in Bangladesh about eye care, teaching mothers about the importance of eating green vegetables when pregnant. He wanted to do more and took the leadership to create a multinational platform for blindness prevention.

While working at Yale University, he met renowned ophthalmologist Brian DeBroff, who discovered a new surgery technique for treating childhood cataracts, and who shared his concern for preventing blindness among underprivileged children. Together, the two founded DCI and the Blindness Prevention Program, which has grown into a life-changing initiative. With the support of donors and local partners, DCI now provides access to vision screening, treatment such as eyeglasses, cataract surgery, and rehabilitation, and vision health education to underprivileged children and adults in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

DCI launched its Blindness Prevention Program in 2007, with the objective of preventing and treating vision loss among underprivileged children and their families. DCI sponsors blindness prevention efforts in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, and periodically provides eye care to uninsured people in the United States. You can click the slideshow below to learn more about the program.

Program Goals

  1. Make vision care accessible to all
  2. Educate people about eye health and treatment
  3. Provide treatment for vision impairment, especially for refractive error and cataracts

Present Activities

  • Arrange eye screening camps in remote rural areas and urban slums
  • Provide treatment, especially for refractive error and cataract surgery
  • Provide vision health education to children and parents, especially mothers
  • Circulate information about eye health, treatment and rehabilitation through resource centers
  • Observe International Day of the Blind in all project areas, involving local youth, to generate mass awareness of the importance of eye care

Our Impact

  • 5,200 disadvantaged children and 7,752 adults in Bangladesh have received free eye care (eye screenings & follow-up)
  • 978 patients in Bangladesh have received cataract surgeries
  • 325 received cataract surgeries in India
  • 100 primary ophthalmologists trained in pediatric cataract surgery
  • Seeds, plants, and fertilizer have been distributed to 800 families for homestead gardens as a source of vitamins
  • Free eyecare camp arranged for uninsured Americans in Waterbury, CT

The Need

  • 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide; 19 million are children under 15
  • The three main causes of visual impairment in children is uncorrected refractive error (63%), cataracts (23%), and glaucoma (2%)
  • 80% of visual impairment in children is preventable or treatable. Delayed intervention for refractive error and low vision leads to blindness
  • There are nearly 45 million blind people worldwide
  • 500,000 children become blind every year
  • 50% of children who become blind die within one year
  • Blindness in children damages psychomotor, social, & emotional development and inhibits opportunities for education, employment, & community participation. So the impact is much severe when the number of ‘number of blind years” is taken into account
  • Lack of accessibility to vision care, cost, and lack of knowledge are the major contributing factors to visual impairment

Visual Impairment in Bangladesh

  • 750,000 adults and 40,000 children are blind in Bangladesh
  • 27,250 adults and 9,925 children per million have refractive error
  • 550,000 are blind from cataracts
  • 75% of those could either by prevented or cured by early detection and treatment
  • 80% of those affected live in rural areas
  • There are only 820 ophthalmologists and 268 mid-level eye care personnel providing eye care services and 90% of all doctors and healthcare providers are urban based
  • Approximately 1,200 patients per million become blind due to cataracts each year
  • To overcome the backlog, 2,200 patients per million need to be operated on per year

Visual Impairment in India

  • There are an estimated 2 million blind children in India, most with easily treatable cataracts or refractive errors
  • There are 11,000 ophthalmologists in the region, mostly in urban areas
  • Only 35% of eye care interventions with children are conducted in the public, government sector
  • There is only 1 ophthalmologist per 250,000 rural people in India
  • 62.6% of blindness in Indian children is due to cataracts
  • India has 23.5% of the world’s blind children

Visual Impairment in Nepal

  • There are about 4,300 blind children in Nepal
  • 23% of blind children do not receive surgery because their families can’t afford it
  • 15% of blind children and their families are unaware of treatment
  • The majority of eyecare is provided by non-government organizations
  • 64% of cataract surgeries are on foreign patients, not those living in poverty in Nepal

Visual Impairment in the United States

  • The number of Americans without health insurance is roughly 47 million
  • Nearly 9 million are children, and more than 8 in 10 are from working families
  • Americans without health insurance have the lowest rate of eye care use