If you ask any ophthalmologist whether glaucoma is only an elderly disease, they will tell you no. Young children can develop glaucoma when they do not get the proper treatment and the much needed cataract surgery on time. It means these children are doomed. They have to learn to navigate life without vision and colour. In 2017 Glaucoma Australia, it was reported that babies as young as three months old underwent cataract surgery. Unless they were operated on, they ran a high risk of getting glaucoma. The study also reported that identifying children with cataracts is difficult, even with modern techniques. When children are less than a year old, assessing the loss of vision and development of cataracts can be tricky and considerable vision can be lost before the treatment can be started.
However, people like Tej Kohli and Sanduk Ruit, with their ‘Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation’, have been working on offering children cured of cataract blindness so they can achieve their dreams.
Some Figures About Childhood Cataracts
- Every year globally, 500,000 children become blind
- 60 per cent of children succumb to death within a year of becoming blind
- Children who survive live under the category of disabled children or people but with little to no opportunity for education, income, or other economic opportunities.
- The ratio of childhood cataracts varies between 0.32 and 22.9 per 10,000 children
- 90 per cent of childhood cataracts are developmental or congenital
- Studies have shown that childhood cataracts can be reduced with vitamin A supplements, proper nutritional diets and measles immunization.
The Challenges In Curing Childhood Cataracts
In low-income families and communities in developing nations, the main challenge in curing childhood cataracts is the lack of management of the condition and the diagnosis of it.
Management Challenge: It begins with the failure to have proper infrastructure and make it easily available to the patients. But the lack of skilled and trained ophthalmologists and ophthalmology surgeons, equipment and the higher treatment costs, along with long-term follow-up to prevent or treat the cases, results in an increase in childhood cataracts in under-served communities.
Diagnostic challenge: The failure to establish a system and infrastructure that can increase public awareness of childhood cataracts and the perils it brings. This leads to early detection of the cases and referrals to get the proper treatment and surgery, which can cure the blindness caused due to cataracts or the development of glaucoma.
Mitigating The Challenges Of Childhood Cataracts
Since the proper outcome of preventing childhood cataracts starts with early detection and early correctional surgery, one person is answering the prayers of these children and their parents. Mr Tej Kohli, along with ophthalmology surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit, is bringing cures for cataract blindness among children and adults in the under-served communities of developing nations. Part of Mr Tej Kohli’s noble work is developing the ‘Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation’, which wants to cure 500,000 cataract blindness by 2030. But that’s not all; Tej Kohli’s eye foundation has been working tirelessly with other researchers and Tej Kohli’s entrepreneurial ventures to cure congenital blindness.
Tej Kohli’s ambition with Dr Sanduk Ruit to create a legacy of people who can enjoy their life with complete vision is taking its shape and gradually nearing its mark of screening 1,000,000 people to cure cataract blindness, which Mr Tej Kohli terms as ‘needless blindness’.