In 2009 the United Nations declared the 18th of July (Nelson Mandela’s birthday) Mandela day in honor of a lifetime spent fighting social injustices. The Nelson Mandela Foundation has since invited the global community to dedicate 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day to making the world a betterplace. Celebrating the idea that an individual has the ability to change the world.

This year the John Nugent Memorial Eyecare Foundation will be dedicating their time on Mandela Day to, fighting preventable blindness. The foundation will be:

  • Hosting a “virtual” Cycling, Swimming, Paddling, Running and Walking event (See more about this below)

Funds raised will be going towards acquiring the instruments needed to diagnose and effectively manage Keratoconus in the Northern Cape.

  • Conducting an eye screening event to screen for Keratoconus.

The Virtual Sporting Event

Participants will be challenged to cover AT LEAST 6.7km in 67 minutes. They can swim or cycle or paddle or run or walk. It’s up to them. There will be prizes for the participants who cover the greatest distance in 67 minutes in each activity. (T&C’s apply)

Entry fee:                      ZAR 67

Medal (optional):        ZAR 100

T-Shirt (optional):       ZAR 300

Date:                              18 July 2021

Distance:                       As far as you can get in 67 minutes

Venue:                            Wherever you are


More details of the events and exactly how it will work are available at Nelson Mandela Day 67 minute Challenge

The Screening Event

The JNM Foundation will be conducting an eye screening event to screen for Keratoconus. Volunteer optometrists and ophthalmic assistants will be using a Pentacam Corneal Tomographer to scan the ocular surface. The reports will be studied by the clinicians and those suspected of having keratoconus will be referred for the appropriate interventions.


More about Keratoconus and its Management

Keratoconus is an eye disease characterized by the progressive thinning of the transparent front surface (cornea) of the eye. The thinning of the cornea leads to a distorted corneal surface which in turn can lead to progressively poorer vision. In the early stages Keratoconus is effectively managed with spectacles or contact lenses. As the disease progresses the cornea can get so thin that it ruptures, requiring a corneal transplant to preserve vision.

Corneal Crosslinking is a procedure that strengthens the cornea potentially halting the progression of the disease preventing the deterioration of the patient’s vision. It therefore makes sense to diagnose keratoconus as early as possible and perform the crosslinking procedure before the patient has experienced significant loss of vision.


Keratoconus in the Northern Cape

The Northern Cape province’s public health services unfortunately do not have the instruments required to facilitate the screening and diagnosis of keratoconus and/or perform the corneal crosslinking procedures. The John Nugent Memorial Eyecare Foundation will be embarking on a campaign to raise the funds needed to acquire these instruments for use at public healthcare facilities in the Northern Cape.


Applicatiion of Funds Raised

Fund raised will be going towards acquiring the instruments needed to diagnose and effectively manage Keratoconus in the Northern Cape


Instruments Required

  • Pentacam Corneal Tomographer (R365 000)

A corneal tomographer is a device that is able to map the corneal surface and produces information regarding the front and back surface of the cornea as well as its thickness. Sophisticated software analyses the data and produces reports that clinicians can used to facilitate the diagnosis of keratoconus in the disease’s early, incipient stage.


  • Crosslinking System (R200 000)

This is the device that emits a UVA light with a specific wavelength. After first soaking the cornea with Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) for 20 minutes the clinicians use a then expose the cornea to a specific wavelength UV light for up to 30 minutes. This process induces the formation of additional bonds between the molecules in the cornea leading to an increase in the rigidity and strength of the cornea.


  • Ultrasound Pachymeter (R120 000)

This instrument is used during the procedure to determine thickness of the cornea, which determines the length of time the clinician will shine the light on the cornea.


Please help the JNM in their efforts by signing up for the Nelson Mandela Day 67 minute Challenge