Cataracts are caused by a build-up of protein that clouds the eye’s lens, which can lead to blurred vision and eventual blindness. They are often thought to only affect older people, but in developing countries they are a huge problem for children too.
The condition 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 they are caught in time or it can cause the eye to stop developing, meaning sight can never be properly restored.
This is what a classroom in Sierra Leone might look like if you’re a child with full vision. You can see the blackboard, recognise the teacher’s gestures and notice the reactions of your classmates, enabling you to be fully involved with the lesson.
Now, here’s what the same classroom in Sierra Leone might look like if you have cataracts. You can barely make out the blackboard or see what is written on it, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to take part in lessons and progress with your studies.