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Bangladesh

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of untreated cataracts worldwide. In 2017, Sightsavers helped to screen more than a million people for eye conditions.

A woman holds her smiling son as they walk through a wooded area near their village.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, yet it has one of the highest rates of untreated cataracts worldwide.

Extreme poverty and a lack of awareness about health issues mean more than half a million people are thought to be blind as a result of cataracts.

Our work in Bangladesh focuses on screening people to diagnose eye problems, providing sight tests to check for refractive error, and supporting cataract operations to restore vision.

We also help to train volunteer community health workers, and run inclusive programmes to make sure people with disabilities have equal access to healthcare, education and employment opportunities.

At a glance

Total population
  • 161 million

  • What we focus on
  • Cataracts
  • Disability rights

  • Key programmes
  • Cataract surgery
  • Voices of the Marginalised
  • I thought I would be blind forever. Now I feel peace in my heart.
    Kulsum following her cataract surgery
    Cataract patient Kulsum smiles and embraces Sightsavers' staff member Mosheur.

    How we’re making a difference in Bangladesh

    Nine-year-old Polok smiles with his mother at home after undergoing cataract removal surgery.

    Treating cataracts

    Nine-year-old Polok from Bangladesh had cataracts that severely affected his vision. His cousin contacted Sightsavers on Facebook, and he was referred for sight-saving surgery.
    Read Polok’s story

    Smiling woman, who is a disability rights activist, wearing sunglasses and orange headscarf.

    Disability rights

    Jahanara was born blind and spent the first 27 years of life unable to leave the house. Now she’s a spokesperson empowering people with disabilities: when she talks, people listen.
    Read Jahanara’s story

    Reaching remote areas

    Sightsavers’ Ella Pierce met eight-year-old Suborna, who was in desperate need of a cataract operation, but lived several hours from the nearest city.
    Read Ella’s trip report

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    More from Bangladesh

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    The funding, which was announced by UK Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt, aims to address disability inclusion in developing countries.

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    Watch cataract surgery condensed into one and a half minutes

    During a recent trip to Bangladesh, we filmed a time-lapse video of a Sightsavers cataract operation taking place at Khulna BNSB hospital.

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    Bengali TV show shares Sightsavers’ success stories

    The weekly programme, called ‘Shopno Dekhe Chokh’ (‘Eyes See the Dream’), tells the stories of people whose vision has been restored in Bangladesh.

    Three-year-old Nadir from Bangladesh.
    Sightsavers Reports

    Nadir’s story

    Three-year-old Nadir had cataracts in both eyes since birth, which severely affected his vision. But an operation restored his sight and changed his life.

    A group of people riding on an uncovered autorickshaw in Bangladesh.
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    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.

    The leaders of disability self-help groups in Bangladesh pose for a photo.
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    New alliance in Bangladesh promotes disability-inclusive development

    The alliance, inaugurated in Dhaka, promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities as part of the country’s implementation of the Global Goals.

    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 young boy in Bangladesh having his eyes tested.
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    Bangladesh quadruples its eye care budget

    The government of Bangladesh has set aside BDT828 million (£7.9 million) to spend on eye care by 2021 – four times higher than the previous budget.

    Nine-year-old Polok smiles with his mother at home after undergoing cataract removal surgery.
    Sightsavers Reports

    Polok’s story

    Thanks to the use of Facebook’s messenger tool, nine-year-old Polok from Bangladesh has regained his sight.

    Jaharana prepares a meal.
    Sightsavers Reports

    Jahanara’s story

    Jahanara was born blind, and for 27 years she rarely left the house. But Sightsavers helped her find her voice, and she now campaigns for disability rights.

    Majidul having a cateract operation in Bangladesh
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    Sightsavers operation features in BBC video

    A clip of seven-year-old Majidul having sight-saving surgery in Bangladesh is featured in a new video from BBC Worldwide’s Brit Lab channel on YouTube.

    Majidul and his family being filmed by a camera crew in a hospital.
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    Sightsavers’ work featured on BBC’s ‘Forces of Nature’

    On Monday 25 July, Sightsavers' work will feature on BBC's ‘Forces of Nature’ at 9pm.

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