DONATE

What are cataracts?

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

A man has his eyes checked for trachoma in Ghana.

Cataracts are often thought to only affect older people, but in developing countries they are a huge problem for children too.

Cataracts can be present from birth, or may develop as a result of eye injuries or following eye surgery for other problems. Although cataracts are not difficult to treat, it’s vital for children that the condition is caught in time or it can cause the eye to stop developing, meaning sight can never be properly restored.

See what the world looks like to a child with cataracts

20 million
people are blind because of cataracts
260,000
cataract operations were supported by Sightsavers in 2016
$78
can pay for a child cataract operation

How are cataracts treated?

Surgical staff perform a cataract operation.

Surgery

A cataract operation takes as little as 20 minutes and costs about $78 for a child.

A close-up of the plastic lens that's implanted into the eye during a cataract operation.

Replacement

During the operation, the clouded lens is removed and a new artificial lens is implanted inside the eye.

A patient has his eyes examined by an eye specialist.

Recovery

Recovery time is quick, and vision can start to return to the affected eye within a few hours of surgery.

What we’re doing

We aim to make it easier for people to be treated for cataracts, especially in poorer areas of developing countries, where surgery is not always readily available.

We also want to improve the quality of cataract surgery and increase the number of operations that are able to be performed.

To achieve this, we’re working to strengthen community health programmes and increase the number of surgeons, nurses and community workers trained in eye health, as well as educating local people about the condition and explaining where to get treatment.

In 2016, Sightsavers supported more than 260,000 cataract operations around the world. Since our work began in 1950, we have supported 6.6 million cataract operations, and trained more than 1,000 surgeons to perform the operations.

We need your help to save the sight of people with cataracts. An eye examination to screen someone for a range of eye conditions costs less than a cup of coffee, and could be the first step towards restoring their vision.

Help save someone’s sight

DONATE

More about cataracts

Sightsavers from the field

How you’re helping us restore sight in Bangladesh

Sightsavers’ Ella Pierce travelled to Bangladesh and met eight-year-old Suborna, who was in desperate need of a cataract operation. This is her journey.

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.