RATIONALE for the foundation?
Corneal disease is reported as the cause of blindness or visual impairment in 11% of South African children. Keratoconus is a growing disease with reports of as many as 23 in every 1000 people being afflicted in some countries. Although Keratoconus usually starts in children during the early puberty stage, most patients seek help only when the condition has already advanced to the stage where they are “technically blind” and can no longer function at school/work.
If not treated, affected children have to leave school and usually end up staying at home, being placed in special education classes or enrolled in Schools for the Blind. Sadly, even when diagnosed, the majority cannot afford the high costs of treatment. Hence, there is a need for a system that helps children get access to eye care services for early diagnosis of keratoconus and helps those already diagnosed to receive treatment in the form of contact lenses, corneal transplants or other interventions to help them function normally.
Strategies needed are public awareness campaigns, patient and practitioner education, advocacy, research innovation and financial support that pays for contact lenses, surgery and other related costs.
even when diagnosed, the majority cannot afford the high costs of treatment