Walkathon on World Sight Day

Rotary International is now synonymous with its polio eradication programme, which has been going on for over 20 years. But, over the last nine years, Rotary is also focusing on reducing the incidence of avoidable blindness (AB) cases in the community. To create awareness, Rotary district 3190, in association with Sankara Eye Hospital, celebrated World Sight Day on October 8. They organised a walkathon, in which 60 school children, 30 visually challenged people and more than 50 Rotarians participated.

World over, there are 314 million people who are blind; out of this 45 million are fully blind and 269 million have low vision. Over 90 per cent of these problems are in underdeveloped countries and India is one of them as far as AB is concerned. Rotary supports the community through their clubs. The RI District 3190 comprises 84 clubs serving the communities of Bangalore, Ramanagaram, Mandya, Tumkur, Kolar in Karnataka and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. Blindness issues that could be resolved easily are refraction and cataract which form over 70 per cent of the total blindness.

Since 2000-01, there has been a major focus on AB issues and several clubs have taken up AB projects on a regular basis. Some of the clubs in the Rotary district 3190 have established or have supported setting up of eye hospitals.

In 1997, Rotary Club of Bangalore North at Rajajinagar established a full-fledged eye hospital and have been serving the lesser privileged. On an average, they have performed over 2,000 cataract surgeries. Also, the Globe Eye Foundation which was established in 1995, has been closely working with Rotary Club of Indiranagar and has established GEF Eye Hospital in Hoskote. They have been performing nearly 4,000 cataract surgeries per year during the last three years. Rotary Club of Bangalore West has established an eye care facility along with Sharada Peetam, Rotary Sharada Health Care Centre at Sankarmutt in 2001. They have performed over 1,500 cataract surgeries annually. The Sankara Eye Hospital, a 200-bed eye hospital was established in 2007 at Whitefield by Sankara Eye Care Foundation. Rotary is supporting this hospital for performing cataract surgeries and for equipment.

With financial support from a few Rotary clubs in Europe, UK, USA, Canada and also from The Rotary Foundation, the clubs in the district have been helping the community in a major way to reduce the prevalence of cataract. The Rotary Club of Bangalore, Koramangala, has been playing a key role in coordinating such projects to conduct eye camps and get cataract surgeries done. Apart form this, clubs also help eye hospitals in procuring special equipment with the help of The Rotary Foundation. Over the last nine years, the clubs have performed over 30,000 cataract surgeries worth over Rs three crore and have helped procure equipment worth over Rs 1.5 crore.

This year, Rotary Bangalore Koramangala Charitable Trust in association with Globe Eye Foundation has launched ‘Cataract-free RID3190’ project, with the main objective of reducing the backlog of cataract in the district which is over 50,000.
Rtn. M V Ravikumar, Asst Governor &  Hon Chairman, Cataract-free RID3190 Project
(Contact for more details.)