Alcon Cares Project 100 Commits to Reducing Cataract Blindness Globally
Alcon, the global leader in eye care and a division of Novartis, today announced Alcon Cares Project 100, which aims to reduce cataract blindness by providing equipment to perform phacoemulsification (or “phaco”), a key step in the cataract surgery procedure. Alcon Cares, a foundation that oversees equipment and product donations to those in need, will give 100 reprocessed Infiniti units to eligible clinics in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa over the next three years, making it one of the largest eye care equipment donations of its kind.
“Alcon Cares Project 100 aligns with our global efforts to combat cataract blindness and our mission to enhance sight and improve lives,” said David Endicott, Chairman of Alcon Cares and Chief Operating Officer, Alcon. “Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness and the World Health Organization recognizes cataract surgery as one of the most cost-effective treatments offered in developing countries. With 100 Infiniti units being placed in underserved markets, thousands of patients will receive the gift of sight. Additionally, hundreds of doctors who will be trained in phaco surgery in those clinics will be able to go on to provide quality care to thousands more.”
Phacoemulsification is a cataract surgery technique that uses an ultrasound probe to fragment the lens and remove the cataract. Phaco is the preferred cataract surgical method in developed countries; however, large-scale implementation of phaco can be challenging in developing countries due to the initial equipment expense and lack of experienced surgeons.
Alcon Cares Project 100 will first start impacting lives in Asia this year and then will extend to Central and South America in 2019, and Africa in 2020. Alcon is working with partners to select clinics and hospitals that meet specific criteria, including proficiency in phaco surgeries, an underserved patient population and adequate infrastructure that can sustain an eye care practice.
The goals of the project, which is expected to conclude in December 2020, are to perform at least 200,000 phaco cataract surgeries and train at least 400 doctors. Alcon Cares will work with its partners to collect annual reports to measure the impact of this project.
“Eliminating blindness is one of the most cost-effective ways to fight poverty, as every dollar invested into prevention results in at least a four-dollar economic return,” said Melissa Thompson, President of Alcon Cares and Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Alcon. “With the goal of reducing cataract blindness, our program is expected to have a significant social and economic impact in communities, as improved sight empowers individuals to be more productive and reduces assistance needed from their caretakers and family members.”