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Unlocking Blindness....

"Mare Alehegn lay back nervously on the metal operating table, her heart visibly pounding beneath her sack cloth dress, and clenched her fists as the paramedic sliced into her eyelid.

Repeated infections had scarred the underside of her eyelids, causing them to contract and forcing her lashes in on her eyes. For years, each blink felt like thorns raking her eyeballs. She had plucked the hairs with crude tweezers, but the stubble grew back sharper still.

The scratching, for her and millions worldwide, gradually clouds the eyeball, dimming vision and, if left untreated, eventually leads to a life shrouded in darkness. This is late-stage trachoma, a neglected disease of neglected people, and an eminently preventable one, but for a lack of the modest resources that could defeat it.

This surgery, which promised to lift the lashes off Alehegn's lacerated eyes, is a 15-minute procedure so simple that a health worker with a few weeks' training can do it. The materials cost about $10."

So reports the IHT in the introduction to its article on how trachoma still effects an estimated 70 million people in the world.....

"Trachoma disappeared from the United States and Europe as living standards improved, but remains endemic in much of Africa and parts of Latin America and Asia, its last, stubborn redoubts. The World Health Organization estimates 70 million people are infected with it. Five million suffer from its late stages. And two million are blind because of it."

As we either enjoy a weekend or head into one, reflect on what vast sums are being spent on armaments and wars such as the present one in Iraq - yet the world cannot see to it [no pun intended!] that relatively little money is spent to preserve or save the eye sight of so many people around the world.

Read the entire IHT article here.


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