At a free eye care clinic in Bangladesh, over 100 transgender individuals recently had their eyes checked. From that group, 38 will be receiving free pairs of glasses, and three are set up to receive free cataract surgery.
Australia's Fred Hollows Foundation works to put an end to blindness in developing countries all over the globe. Since its doors opened in 1992, the organization has restored sight to over 1 million people. In 2012, the foundation conducted an eye health screening targeted at female sex workers due to their inability to access regular basic health care.
"In Bangladesh there is a sizable transgender community, and many of them become sex workers just to survive. This is the first time the foundation has ever run a screening program for the transgender community in Bangladesh," Dr. Zareen Kahn, field manager for the Bangladesh clinic, told BuzzFeed News. "Most of our work occurs in developing countries in Asia and Africa where people can't access eye health services because they live in remote locations or simply can't afford to get help."
"In Bangladesh the transgender community is forced to live on the fringes of society. That's why these groups do not feel they can freely mix with the general population and access health services as they require."
"It became clear to us at the foundation there was a need to conduct a similar screening program for this group, so we made sure to specifically include this community for our next eye screening event."
"The foundation believes that everybody — regardless of gender, race, economic status, orientation, or any other factor — is entitled to live in a world free of avoidable blindness."
"This screening camp was so important — for most of the participants, it was the first time ever they had been able to get an eye check or get medical help for their eyes."
According to Dr. Kahn, the response from the community was so positive, there are plans to do it all again in the near future.
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