As 600,000 Africans goes blind every year as a result of cataracts, demands for intraocular lenses produced by the only Intraocular Lens Laboratory on the African continent shows a significant increase.
Established by world’s renowned Australian Ophthalmologist, the Eritrea based Fred Hollows Intraocular Laboratory (IOL) so far exports over 2.2 million intraocular lenses to more than 50 countries in Asia, Africa, Oceania and Europe ever since its inception in 1994. By applying international standard work procedures and state-of-the-art equipment, the plant has reached to a capacity of producing 200,000 intraocular lenses annually to satisfy the year-to-year growing demands.
The general manager of the plant, Mr. Mengisteab Tewoldeberhan, indicated that their products are getting increasingly competitive and in great demand on the international market.
Over 83% of the total production has been exported to Asian countries, the Far East, Vietnam, Australia and Europe; 12% to African countries and 5% to the local markets at a price as low as US $8.
Prof. Fred Hollows was a friend of Eritrea since the days of the armed struggle for independence. He spent the last years of his life working to restore sights in Eritrea. Through his organisation, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Eritrea has been named as a country one can restore his sight at under US $25 only.
Hollows died in 1993, one year before his Laboratory in Eritrea begins production. After giving a state funeral service in Sydney, the Australian government later decided to feature Hollows picture on the one dollar coin as part of the Inspirational Australians Series.