What Hope for the Blind?
JOHN MILTON composed his epic works Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained even though completely blind. Being both blind and deaf did not halt Helen Keller in her work with those having physical deficiencies. Yes, many blind people cope well. But how wonderful it would be if everyone could enjoy good eyesight! You may especially agree if you have a loved one or a friend who is blind or has impaired vision.
True, in some lands rehabilitation programs teach visually impaired people the skills of daily living. Braille and trained guide dogs help the blind to care for many of their needs. Nevertheless, many people view blindness as the most dreaded disability. One writer asserted: “To be blind is to lose access to the most significant part of our perceptual world.” At the same time, many have to depend increasingly on others.
Why, you may wonder, is blindness so prevalent? Well, have you heard of trachoma? It is responsible for about nine million cases of blindness. The New Encyclopædia Britannica says about it: “The disease is contagious and thrives where populations are crowded together in poor hygienic surroundings. Shortage of water for washing, and the myriads of flies attracted to human waste, aid the dissemination of the disease. In some ways trachoma is more of a social than a medical problem; if living standards can be improved, overcrowding reduced, flies discouraged, and adequate water supplies ensured, the incidence of trachoma decreases rapidly.” Another million or so suffer from onchocerciasis, or river blindness. Or what about xerophthalmia? Though the name is difficult, the fact is that it is a common cause of blindness. Diabetes, diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever, and sexually transmitted diseases may also lead to blindness.
As we get older, our vision may decline as a result of such disorders as macular degeneration and glaucoma, and we cannot omit cataracts. The New Encyclopædia Britannica notes: “Cataract is still high on the list of causes of blindness in many countries in the world, and this is all the more tragic in that it is so easily curable by surgical means.”
Despite new discoveries in ophthalmology, the eradication of blindness seems far away. The same encyclopedia says: “Advances in the prevention and the medical and surgical treatment of blindness can only be of benefit to a population that has access to medical care. Until the nutritional and hygienic standards of a large part of the world population can be improved, preventable blindness will remain at its present high level.”
While antibiotics and surgery certainly have their place in the fight against blindness, the hope of permanent cure has to do with something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.
Curing the Blind in Jesus’ Day
Visualize a man in his early 30’s walking along a dusty road. Hearing that he is passing by, two blind men at the roadside cry out: “Have mercy on us!” Although onlookers order them to keep quiet, the blind ones cry out loudly: “Have mercy on us!” The man kindly asks: “What do you want me to do for you?” Eagerly they answer: “Let our eyes be opened.” Now imagine: The man touches their eyes, and immediately they receive sight!—Matthew 20:29-34.
What a joy for these formerly blind men! Yet, blindness is so common. This was just one incident. Why should it merit your attention? Because it was Jesus of Nazareth who granted those blind men the favor of seeing. In fact, besides being ‘anointed to declare good news to the poor,’ Jesus was ‘sent forth to grant a recovery of sight to the blind.’—Luke 4:18.
People were astonished by such miraculous cures performed by means of God’s powerful holy spirit. We read: “The crowd felt amazement as they saw the dumb speaking and the lame walking and the blind seeing, and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:31) Without any cost or the making of a personal display or seeking his own glory in such healings, Jesus highlighted Jehovah God’s love and mercy. However, Jesus had compassion also for the spiritually blind and helpless people who were “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.”—Matthew 9:36.
Interesting as such history might be, you may wonder, What about today? Since today no one cures people as Jesus did, do those healings have a meaning for us? Is there any hope for the blind? Please read the following article.
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“Until the nutritional and hygienic standards of a large part of the world population can be improved, preventable blindness will remain at its present high level.”—The New Encyclopædia Britannica