Close this search box.

Restoring sight in Kenya: Surgical outreach continues

Doctor tests the eyes of local African woman

Key Points

  • Volunteers from Spain, in collaboration with “Vision Without Borders,” conducted the fifth blindness prevention project in Kisii, Kenya, a city facing high levels of blindness and visual impairment due to poverty and limited medical access.
  • A team of two doctors, two nurses, and three optometrists provided free medical camps, screening over 4,000 people for various eye disorders, with a focus on cataracts. The team performed 208 surgeries, addressing conditions such as Pterigium, Pseudophakia, and Conjunctival Melanoma.
  • Despite the free treatment, poverty posed a significant barrier for some patients who couldn’t afford the one-dollar transportation fee to reach the hospital. The volunteers emphasized the importance of addressing preventable causes of blindness and providing eyeglasses for refractive errors, the second leading cause of blindness globally. The ongoing project aims to continue providing essential eye care services to underserved populations in Kenya.
26 December 2015
Main topic
Health Camps - Kenya
Related topics
Healthcare Humanitarian

Due to persistent poverty and lack of access to medical care, people in Kenya to struggle with high levels of blindness and visual impairment. Since 2011, our volunteers from Spain in collaboration with “Vision Without Borders” have been holding free medical camps in multiple locations throughout Kenya, performing eye surgeries and providing prescriptions for medicine and glasses. More recently, eight of our volunteers held the fifth blindness prevention project in Kisii, Kenya – a small city located 200 miles from Nairobi – seeing more than 200 people.

In order to prepare for the arrival of our team of two doctors, two nurses and three optometrists, local doctors screened and identified serious cases for surgery to be performed. These local doctors saw over 4,000 people, screening them for cataracts and a variety of other disorders. When our team arrived, they were able to perform 208 surgeries, from December 5th to the 11th.

Three recipients of surgery sit with small bandages on their foreheads

Poverty is a pressing problem for many who attend our camps. When one of our optometrists asked some of the patients why they had not come to the hospital during previous visits, as the treatment is completely free, they responded that they had been unable to afford the transport fare – a one-dollar fee. The optometrist was stunned. Many who have curable blindness, could regain their sight if they only had a single spare dollar to get to the hospital.

Over the past four years, this group of dedicated volunteers has performed 890 surgeries and met with countless other patients, providing medical advice, prescriptions, and medicine. In a recent medical journal publication, volunteers Isabel Signes-Soler, David Piñero and Jaime Javaloy explain that most of their surgeries have removed cataracts, although other eye problems were also treated, such as Pterigium, Pseudophakia and Conjunctival Melanoma. Additionally, they emphasize the dangers of uncorrected “refractive error,” which is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, though it is easily fixed with a pair of eyeglasses. Therefore our optometrists have been careful to examine and screen patients for this refractive error, and provide eyeglasses when needed.

Volunteer shows a phone to an African woman wearing glasses

The doctors’ detailed and comprehensive surveys of visually impaired people in Kenya also had some hopeful results, finding that there was a small decrease in cataracts in rural areas, which they believe is a result of frequent medical camps in the region. Isabel, an optometrist who began these services back in 2011, explains that though in her early efforts to relieve blindness in the region, she was accompanied by very few people, “over time, more and more people have wanted to get involved and to contribute.” As more people are inspired to provide their skills and services, she hopes the medical camps will grow and continue.

Doctors perform surgery on patients

Local doctors, government agencies, and other organizations have been very supportive of this ongoing project. Our volunteers explain that it has been a beautiful experience, one of “cooperation between different professions, cultures and personalities, all with the common goal of restoring sight to the poor.” With a compassionate, understanding and open-minded attitude, our dedicated volunteers hope to continue this work across Kenya, providing care to people who are most in need.

Latest news

Watch Amma’s daily livestream

Amma offers us the possibility to connect online with her on a daily basis. During these livestreams, we can meditate with Amma, chant bhajans (devotional singing) and hear spiritual teachings.

Registration is required to access these livestreams:

Add Your Heading Text Here