, a division of Novartis
, announced Monday the launch of its Alcon Cares Project 100, an initiative designed to reduce cataract blindness by providing equipment to perform phaco surgeries. 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, according to the announcement. This will make it one of the largest eyecare equipment donations of its kind, Alcon stated.
Cataracts are one of the most common age-related eye conditions and one of the leading causes of vision loss. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 18 million people are bilaterally blind from cataracts in the world, making the condition responsible for almost half of all global cases of blindness, according to Alcon’s announcement.
“Alcon Cares Project 100 aligns with our global efforts to combat cataract blindness and our mission to enhance sight and improve lives," David Endicott, chairman of Alcon Cares and chief operating officer of Alcon, said in the announcement. "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," he added.
Phaco is a modern surgery that uses an ultrasound probe to fragment the lens and remove the cataract, and 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 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 said in its announcement. The company is working with partners to select clinics and hospitals that meet specific criteria, including a proficiency in phaco surgeries, according to the announcement.
The goals of the project, which is expected to conclude on Dec. 31, 2020, are to perform at least 200,000 phaco 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,” Melissa Thompson, president of Alcon Cares and the company’s director of corporate social responsibility, said. "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."