Korea Battles Blindness in Cambodia
When Cambodia fell into chaos and eventual civil war in the 1960s, it lost more than government stability. With war came the loss of reliable healthcare, which left its citizens without proper treatment. Chemical weaponry and blunt force resulted in the widespread development of glaucoma, a buildup of pressure on the eyes that can cause total blindness.

Blindness in Cambodia is especially devastating because of the extensive rice production within the country. Agriculture pulls in a lot of Cambodia’s profit, and many households rely on it for a living. If a family breadwinner is unable to work in the fields, it is difficult to remain above the poverty line.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has taken action to assist Cambodia‘s efforts in assisting the visually impaired by offering support to the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

The goal of KOICA is “pursuing harmonization with global partners to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in developing countries.” It is fulfilling this goal in Cambodia by educating Cambodians about glaucoma and other vision impairments. Glaucoma is preventable if treated in time, but awareness and accessibility are lacking. KOICA hopes to change that.

Korea donated $5.5 million to the Cambodian-Korean Friendship Eye Center to the Preah Ang Duong Hospital in Phnom Penh. The eye center contains 52 beds within four stories, as well as high-quality modern equipment.

“The successful operation of this modern Eye Center is expected to contribute to the blind prevention rate, improve eye care services and capacity of the ophthalmic research,” according to the KOICA Cambodia website.

On May 13, Cambodia completed the construction of the new wing. The Cambodian-Korean Friendship Eye Center offers timely treatments to victims of vision impairment. Furthermore, it trains doctors to better diagnose and help their patients.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Global Security, KOICA Cambodia 1, KOICA Cambodia 2, KOICA Cambodia 3, KOICA Cambodia 4, WEBMD,
Photo: Flickr