Providing spectacles in developing countriesBMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7158.551 (Published 29 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:551
Millions endure poor vision for want of affordable glasses
- Andrew R Potter, Ophthalmologist.
- Hôpital St Jean de Dieu, BP 487, Parakou, Republique du Benin
Imagine the scenario. You are an indigenous teacher or civil servant stationed in a small rural community in a tropical country. Almost by definition you are over the age of 40 as your government has not recruited any public employees for several years on the advice of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. You are a worried man. Your second daughter, always the intelligent one among your children, has begun to perform poorly in school. Her teacher says she makes too many mistakes when copying her lessons from the blackboard. Your wife is also distraught. Her mother, who recently underwent a cataract operation at great expense (your own), does not see well enough to return to her village. And worse, your own eyes seem to be failing and you can no longer study in the evenings for that professional diploma that would bring a promotion at work. Your distress is heightened by the knowledge that even if you travelled the 350 miles to the capital during your annual holiday the waiting list to see the ophthalmologist is over four months long and the price of the three pairs of glasses at the optician's shop well beyond …