The number of blind people in Brazil is projected to be at 0.5% of the total population, or 5,000 per one million for a population of over 200 million people. Due to socio-economic differences in the different regions of Brazil, more affluent areas share a similar blindness rate with first world countries at 0.25% and the more impoverished areas are at 0.75%.

Cataract is the main culprit of about 50% of the cases of blindness in Brazil. It is estimated that the number of patients requiring cataract surgery is around 500,000 per year. Other causes are responsible for blindness in Brazil includes the likes of glaucoma, retinal disorders, retinopathy, muscular diseases due to age and infections in the cornea.

There are plenty of reasons why many patients affected by cataract in Brazil refuse to go to surgery. These include fear of surgery, logistical impediments, financial and probably social reasons too (there is stigma attached to it especially in a society where physical beauty is given such high regard). The ageing of the population and the lack of opportunity to have surgery are contributing to the worsening of cataract related blindness and as Brazil’s population continue to age, the number of cataract patients will increase alongside it. Due to poverty and poor public health systems in Brazil, a lot of cataract patients now require surgeries.

What is cataract?

Cataract is the cloudiness of the lens of our eyes. It is usually clear and its main function is to focus the light entering our eyes. They can develop in both eyes. Cataract can cause reversible blindness but can lead to permanent blindness if not treated early on. Most of the time, cataract develops with age however there are also rare instances when a child is born with it. Cataract surgery is not recommended if the condition is not significantly affecting your vision. It is however advisable to get them checked and treated regularly as cataracts get worst over time.

What is the surgery?

Cataract surgeries are easy procedures that only take about half an hour to complete. Patients are normally sedated with local anaesthetics, allowing the patient to go home on the same day as the procedure. The procedure involves the surgeon cutting a small incision in your eye to remove the affected lens and replaces it with an intraocular implant or lens. If both your eyes are affected, the procedure won’t be done on the same day and will given a few weeks gap in between or until the other eye has healed.

What is cataract?

Cataract is the cloudiness of the lens of our eyes. It is usually clear and its main function is to focus the light entering our eyes. They can develop in both eyes. Cataract can cause reversible blindness but can lead to permanent blindness if not treated early on. Most of the time, cataract develops with age however there are also rare instances when a child is born with it. Cataract surgery is not recommended if the condition is not significantly affecting your vision. It is however advisable to get them checked and treated regularly as cataracts get worst over time.

What is the surgery?

Cataract surgeries are easy procedures that only take about half an hour to complete. Patients are normally sedated with local anaesthetics, allowing the patient to go home on the same day as the procedure. The procedure involves the surgeon cutting a small incision in your eye to remove the affected lens and replaces it with an intraocular implant or lens. If both your eyes are affected, the procedure won’t be done on the same day and will given a few weeks gap in between or until the other eye has healed.

A way forward to prevent the further increase of blindness due to cataract in Brazil is improving the public health system that can be availed by Brazilians as a free service. It is estimated that only a small amount of Brazil’s population can afford to buy private health plans, leaving a large number of the population needing the public health system. Alongside this, the budget for public health programs in Brazil should be increased as well. Currently, the budget for Brazil’s public health system is around US $ 80/person which is a meagre number.