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AmeriCares Supports Program for Blind Children in Tibet

  • November 6, 2009

With support from AmeriCares, physicians from the Tibetan Vision Project spent 10 days this fall helping visually impaired children from the Braille Without Borders Lhasa School and Shigatse Farm for Blind Children.

“Blind kids in Tibet are seen as a drag on the family and are often taunted,” said Dr. Marc Lieberman, M.D., a San Francisco-based ophthalmologist. “They have a difficult road to hoe, but now with the help of the Lhasa School they are being integrated into the general education system and into the workforce, something nearly unheard of in Tibet.”

At the request of the schools’ directors, Lieberman and his team of medical volunteers fit 43 students with hand-painted, prosthetic “eye shells.”  By camouflaging the clouded or impaired eyes, the cosmetic overlays make for less awkward social interaction with the wider community.  “Many of the children are unable to appreciate the improvement in their appearance, but the shells help improve their confidence and ability to interact in the community.”

Now that travel restrictions to Tibet have relaxed once again, Dr. Lieberman’s team plans to return in May 2010 to fit more shells and continue their 15-year commitment to training local medical professionals in preventing blindness and restoring vision.

“When working in remote rural communities throughout central Tibet, sadly we often encounter neglected blind children,” said Dr. Lieberman. “There is also a much greater incidence of blinding cataracts than elsewhere, due in part to the increased ultraviolet radiation found at higher altitudes.

“All the medications AmeriCares provided to the Tibet Vision Project were either used for the children on this trip or are being used now by Tibetan surgeons who continue to work there. The medicines have been a wonderful gift and we are all grateful for them.”

AmeriCares supports a number of programs around the world to help the blind, including a blindness prevention program in Africa. Read more >>

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