– Ed

Tate Madlala and Vanessa Moodley (co-founders of The Keratoconus Foundation of SA)

Dr Vanessa Moodley along with co-founders Mr Tate Madlala and Mr Laurent Schneitter, launched the Keratoconus Foundation of South Africa, in November 2017, with the following objectives:

  1. Raise public awareness of the condition and the need for donor corneas.
  2. Train teachers/parents/nurses to ensure early detection and referral.
  3. Undertake advocacy efforts to have keratoconus included for management at all state hospitals.
  4. Train practitioners in appropriate diagnosis and management of the disease.
  5. Facilitate access to necessary treatment; RGP contact lenses, corneal-cross linking and surgical intervention.
  6. Collaborate with national and international partners to ensure that no child has to leave school, being visually impaired due to keratoconus.
  7. Support research and development in keratoconus.

What is keratoconus?

Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window at the front of your eye. It focuses light into your eye. Keratoconus happens when the cornea thins out and bulges like a cone. Changing the shape of the cornea causes the light rays to focus incorrectly. As a result, vision is blurry and distorted, making daily tasks like reading or driving difficult.

Optometrist Russell Nugent, from Upington, who recently raised over R40 000 for The Keratoconus Foundation by completing a 250kms extreme marathon in the Kalahari desert.

The challenge

Whilst there are several options to treat keratoconus, the major challenge remains funding. Many children are not diagnosed in time, with the result that the condition remains uncorrected until they are technically blind and cannot function at school or university any longer. Health workers often do not have the equipment or skills to diagnose the condition and sadly, even when children are diagnosed, most cannot afford the cost of the treatments. In advanced cases, corneal transplant becomes the only option to salvage vision, but often this is not possible, because the patient cannot afford the cost of finding or importing a donor cornea.


or admin@keratoconusfoundationsa.org

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