On 29 August 2019, Ster-Kinekor’s Vision Mission celebrated having brought corneal transplants to 19 youths, taking the opportunity to foster awareness of issues around eye health in learners and the broader public – because #SeeingIsBelieving.
The cornea is a thin, clear layer of tissue that protects the eye and enables it to focus. Injury, disease and other conditions affecting it can drastically reduce vision. Across South Africa, thousands of people are waiting for corneal transplants, with 700 people on waiting lists in Gauteng alone –100 of whom are children under 12.
In South Africa, a shortage of corneas available for transplant means that they must be imported, making the procedure even more complex. Ster-Kinekor’s Vision Mission has therefore assisted in bringing vital corneal transplants to 24 youths – including a double corneal transplant that restored vision to a young man who had been almost blind for more than a decade. Vision Mission is now looking to assist another 36 young people over the next year.
All of which is cause for celebration! At the event, learners from Alexandra were given free visual screenings, and with singer, songwriter Julanie J who managed the panel discussion with the guests. Ophthalmologist Dr Roland Hollhumer, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr Claire Cullen and six past recipients discussed keratoconus, the challenges of living with the disease and the impact of receiving a corneal transplant. Finally, the audience was treated to lunch, popcorn, drinks and a screening of Disney’s spectacular blockbuster, The Lion King.
Since its launch in 2005, Ster-Kinekor’s Vision Mission has brought vital visual screening to over 336 547 disadvantaged learners, with 30% of them receiving further optometric testing. 15 549 learners have then received much-needed spectacles. The initiative has also recently set out to assist learners with hearing impairments.
Ster-Kinekor: Great Moments at their Greatest