What does the world look like to a child with cataracts?

A child who is suffering from cataracts hugs his mother.

Our work on cataracts

Find out how they’re treated and what Sightsavers is doing to help.

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Have you ever wondered what you can see if you suffer from cataracts? Our eye simulation images show how the world looks if you have impaired vision.

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.

A crisp, clear image of classroom in Sierra Leone. The teacher stands in front of the blackboard with a pupil, while the other classmates look on.

How do cataracts affect what you see?

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.

A blurry image of a classroom in Sierra Leone. The image is fuzzy and indistinct, with a whitish tinge. It's very hard to make out the teacher and the blackboard.

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Could pay for plastic lenses for 10 cataract operations.

Could screen 13 children for a range of eye conditions.

Could fund a cataract operation to restore a child's sight.

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If you’re a child with cataracts, your education will undoubtedly start to suffer. Some children’s vision becomes so poor that they’re forced to give up school completely. A lack of education can mean no income, no future and no possibility of escaping poverty.

Cataracts is entirely preventable, but many people in developing countries don’t have access to the medical help they need to help them see again. Luckily, Sightsavers works in developing countries to make it easier for people to be treated for eye conditions such as this. 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.

But to continue our work, we need your help. Will you donate today to help restore a child’s sight and give them hope for the future?

Find out more about our work with schools and what we’re doing to ensure all children have equal access to education.

Want to read more about our work?

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