Dr. Douglas Jeske is a Tumwater eye doctor with a deep devotion to community health and preventing eye disease.
What causes “avoidable blindness”?
Avoidable blindness can be caused by a number of things, one of which is onchocerciasis. Onchocerciasis is caused by the parasite Onchocerca volvulus which is transmitted by the blackfly species. Of the 37 million people worldwide that are infected, most of them are in West, Central, and East Africa, Latin America, and Yemen.
About 300,000 people around the world are blind from this infection, but preventative steps include controlling blackfly populations with pesticides. The WHO Onchocerciasis Control Programme, started in 1974, was extremely effective, saving 40 million people from infection and eye lesions by 2002, and 600,000 people from blindness.
While the program hopes to eliminate blindness caused by onchocerciasis by 2020, they are limited by things like war, lack of political support, insufficient resources, and slow socioeconomic development in target countries.