Cornea transplant project lights up lives of visually impaired
YINCHUAN, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Surrounded by relatives and friends as he sat in a hospital bed, Wang Hongfu carefully removed the gauze covering his left eye.
The 35-year-old villager in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was thrilled to find that the cornea transplant surgery was more effective than he had expected.
"Now, I can see text the size of a ping-pong ball with my left eye," said Wang. The eye had been blinded after being hit by a piece of flying iron slag when he was a child.
Wang was one of the first 13 people in Ningxia to receive a cornea transplant with the support of a public service project dedicated to treating the visually impaired in western China.
The project, supported by Aier Eye Hospital Group, aimed to help 100 people suffering from corneal blindness in Ningxia, along with 500 others in other western provinces, regain their eyesight. It also plans to train more community-level eye doctors.
"Through hands-on training, we hope to equip local doctors with essential knowledge of diagnosis, prescriptions and operations," said Li Shaowei, an ophthalmologist with Aier and also a professor at Central South University in Hunan Province.
There are about 4 million people in China who suffer from cornea blindness, with 100,000 new patients every year, according to Li. He added that a lack of cornea donors remains the biggest obstacle for promoting cornea transplants in the country.
"The city government of Yinchuan has started building a cornea bank," Li said. "They hope that a robust public awareness campaign can help encourage more cornea donations."