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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

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

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

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

More about eye health

A riverbed with green bushes and trees at its edges.
Sightsavers blog
Blogs / NTDs /

How field surveys can help us fight trachoma

In February this year, Sightsavers supported our partners with the ambitious task of conducting field surveys for trachoma in Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi.

Aklima clings to the bars of one of the windows in her home.
Sightsavers Reports

Aklima’s story

Three-year-old Aklima has cataracts that affect her vision. Her home is surrounded by water, so it's a race against time to treat her and keep her safe.

A street in an urban slum in Lahore.
Sightsavers blog

Going where the need is greatest: eye care in Lahore, Pakistan

It’s vitally important to investigate and address eye health disparities in urban areas, says Sightsavers' Guillaume Trotignon.