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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

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 2017, Sightsavers supported more than 316,000 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.

Zamurrad holds a hand up to her eye, while both her and her daughter smile at the camera.

Zamurrad’s story

Zamurrad’s life ground to a halt when she developed cataracts, but a straightforward operation gave her back her independence.

Read her story

More about cataracts

Hula wears her new glasses and reads from a sheet of paper.
Sightsavers from the field

August highlights: updates from around the world

The latest from Kenya, where Sightsavers staff have been carrying out eye screenings in a refugee camp in Turkana. Plus news from India and Nigeria.

Winesi’s update

After years of fear and struggle, Winesi and his family have found happiness and hope for the future thanks to a cataract operation funded by people like you.

A remote area in Benin featuring a long wooden bridge.
Sightsavers from the field

July highlights: updates from around the world

An update from Benin, where eye care staff have been travelling 3km on foot to treat ‘the disease at the end of the road’. Plus news from Nigeria, Pakistan and more.