Blindness in Haiti
Occupying roughly one-third of the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic, Haiti has the dubious distinction of being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Most of its inhabitants live on less than $2 a day. The country accounts for an estimated 50% of blindness cases in the Caribbean region, due to greater exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In 2010, an earthquake devastated the country’s already-fragile public health infrastructure, destroying 50 health centers and part of Haiti’s primary teaching hospital. The country also faces a severe shortage of trained medical personnel, with one physician for every 10,000 inhabitants. For these reasons, most Haitians do not have access to basic vision care.
SEE in Haiti
SEE International has worked to restore sight in Haiti for over 20 years. We were among the first vision care nonprofits on the ground after Hurricane Matthew struck the country in 2016. In the wake of these natural disasters, SEE continues to give the Haitian people hope by providing sight-restoring procedures and screenings, as well as training local vision care providers. Each year, SEE hosts around 35 clinics in Haiti, treating 50-100 people during each program. Our team of volunteer surgeons treat a number of conditions including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachments, and other serious eye conditions. Key program locations include Milot, Cap Haitian, Croix-des-Bouquets, and Port-au-Prince.
Additional to directly providing care in Haiti, our volunteer ophthalmologists train local medical professionals in key ophthalmic techniques such as proper screenings and diagnoses, surgical techniques, and laser treatments. These trainings strengthen the skills of new and veteran Haitian ophthalmologists to run clinics in their respective communities without outside assistance.
Because of the high demand, SEE is constantly organizing additional programs to support the needs of the Haitian people. Haiti has become one of SEE’s most frequented countries with teams there at least once a month. With SEE’s efforts to restore sight to the Haitian people, they will be able to return to work and support their families, thus strengthening the economy and infrastructure of Haiti.