A recent patient at our new clinic in Ixcán, Guatemala, was Sebastian. Sebastian is 73 years old and is functionally blind due to very dense cataracts. He is unable to see faces, shapes or colors. He only has light perception. You might imagine how this limits his life. He’s unable to leave his home alone to visit his friends or go to church or to the market. He can’t help much around the house.

When blindness occurs, the patient often needs a full time caregiver, taking yet another family member from useful employment or from their work or chores around the home. Most often, Sebastian’s caregiver is a grandchild.

The blind patient is marginalized from their family and society and has a significantly decreased lifespan. Restoring the eyesight of one person often means improving the lives of an entire family and community.

The people of Ixcán, like Sebastian, make their living with their hands. They need to be able to see to thread a needle, to read instructions, to removing a sliver, for making repairs or feeding the chickens and for walking. Not to mention to see a smiling face or an encouraging nod.

Estimates from the World Health Organization show that over 5,000 people in Ixcan, Guatemala have vision reduced to 20/60 or worse due to cataracts and nearly half of those folks have reduced vision much like Sebastian; that is, only light perception.

Enfoque is working daily to correct this situation

First, by educating the public that cataracts are a treatable condition. In fact, in most cases it takes as little as 10 minutes to do the surgery. But, 68% of the population are unaware that cataracts are treatable and in Ixcán most cannot afford it.

Second, EI is identifying people who have cataracts and funding their surgeries. We are able to cover the cost of a cataract surgery for only $200. This is because we partner with a Guatemalan eye clinic, Visualiza, which operates social service clinics which provide eye surgeries at cost.

The social and emotional cost of blindness for people like Sebastian is huge, but the cost of treatment through Enfoque Ixcán is small in comparison. You can be a part of the solution. Your donation to Enfoque Ixcán will restore Sebastian’s vision and change his life and the lives of those around him.