Where Are The Blind?

I have only two good friends who are totally blind. They became so at age 13 or 14, but that did not stop them from completing college and going on to get earned doctorates. One has his Ph.D. in psychology and was a licensed psychologist in private practice until he retired. The other has his doctorate in theology. It is rare to encounter blind people in the United States. However, in keeping with U.S. law, the signs at elevators and many other places include braille. Special arrangements are made at schools throughout America to meet the needs of blind students. Organizations such as the Lion’s Clubs are particularly involved in helping. In the U.S, about 22.5 million adults have some kind of visual impairments, and about 2.3% of the population are blind.

Contrast this with the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, there are over 285 million people in the world who are visually-impaired. About 90% of them are in developing countries. Some are blind because of what commonly are called neglected tropical diseases, such as river blindness (transmitted by an insect and a major concern of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter). The good news is that about 80% of blindness in developing countries can be cured.

Several organizations on my HelpingWordwide.org website are involved in that. Some send teams of medical professionals on short-term mission trips (see the “Get Involved in Medical Outreach” category of this site). I applaud each and every one of them.

I have no medical expertise and certainly am not able to determine what is best for every situation, but this is one of the best stories I have heard in a long time. Hopefully, through their efforts and those of many other people, the incidence of blindness in the next few years and decades will greatly diminish.

A Google search for the 25 most popular Christian hymns puts Amazing Grace at the top of the list. Written by former slave trader John Newton, it contains the words: “I once was blind, but now I see.” Although this might not be in the same context as the above paragraphs, I am glad that there are individuals and organizations helping blind people to see today.

Additional comment: Only one day after writing this blog, my letter carrier brought me the September 2016 issue of National Geographic Magazine with a cover story called “The End of Blindness.” It reinforces many of the above comments, and I recommend that you read it.

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