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Protecting sight

Every year, we support our partners to carry out millions of eye examinations and refer people for treatment to prevent blindness and restore sight.

A girl from Sierra Leone, Africa

Through community volunteers in developing countries, we arrange for medication to be distributed to prevent blinding diseases. We fund operations for people who need them, and train eye care workers and surgeons.

Here you can find out about some of the eye conditions and causes of blindness that Sightsavers helps to treat, and what we’re doing about them.

Cataracts

A man has his eyes checked for trachoma in Ghana.

Cataracts are caused by a build-up of protein that clouds the eye’s lens, which can lead to blurred vision and, eventually, blindness.

The condition is often thought to only affect older people, but in developing countries it’s a huge problem for children too. Cataracts are thought to cause up to 60 per cent of blindness in parts of Africa, and 20 million people worldwide are blind because of the condition.

What we’re doing

In 2016, Sightsavers helped to provide more than 260,000 cataract operations.

More about cataracts

Refractive error

16-year-old Mohammed from Zanzibar is measured for spectacles.

Refractive errors are caused by irregularity in the shape of the eye, making it hard to focus clearly.

They include myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism (caused by an irregularly curved cornea) and presbyopia (a normal ageing change where the eye is no longer able to focus at close range). These eye conditions can be particularly problematic in poorer developing countries, where those affected may not be able to afford sight tests or spectacles.

What we’re doing

Sightsavers distributes spectacles and helps to train optometrists to diagnose vision problems.

More on refractive error

Neglected tropical diseases

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that affect more than a billion people worldwide.

NTDs are most prevalent in remote rural areas, urban slums and in conflict zones. They can cause severe and often lifelong physical impairment and affect some of the world’s poorest people, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and social isolation. The work of Sightsavers and partners shows that these diseases can be prevented, treated and eliminated.

What we’re doing

Sightsavers’ work focuses on treating and preventing five neglected tropical diseases.

More about NTDs

Other conditions

A five-year-old girl in Ethiopia has her eyes checked for trachoma.

Sightsavers also works to treat and prevent a range of other eye conditions that can cause visual impairment or blindness.

These include glaucoma, which is caused when the eye’s drainage becomes blocked, leading to pressure that can damage the optic nerve. Our work also covers diabetic retinopathy, which affects the blood vessels in the back of the eye.

How do our eyes work?

Our eyes are responsible for four-fifths of all the information our brain receives.

More about our eyes

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More about eye health

Photo of a young boy smiling with glasses on.
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‘The Big Bake’ launches Sightsavers’ partnership with Optical Express

A new partnership with Optical Express was launched on World Sight Day, with ‘The Big Bake’, a nationwide bake sale.

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Sightsavers supporters encouraged to #Take10Give10 to save sight

Take a 10-minute wellbeing break and make a donation as part of the #Take10Give10 challenge to help save sight.

An eye health worker shines a torch into Issa's eyes to check for trachoma.
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News / NTDs /

More than a million people examined for trachoma

In just over a year, more than a million people across four continents have been examined as part of the Tropical Data initiative.