Through community volunteers in developing countries, we also arrange for medication to be distributed to local communities 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 how you can help.
If it isn’t treated, over time it causes scarring to the eyelid that makes the eyelashes turn inward and scrape against the eye, causing tremendous pain and, eventually, blindness. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, while surgery can stop the eyelashes rubbing against the eyeball.
It is spread by the bite of infected black flies that breed in fast-flowing rivers, which gave rise to the term ‘river blindness’. It can be treated with medication to help stop the spread of infection.
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.
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.
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.