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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

A Million Miracles

Our campaign raised enough money to provide a million cataract operations.

About the campaign
20 million
people are blind because of cataracts
355,000
cataract operations were supported by Sightsavers in 2018
$117
can pay for a child cataract operation

How are cataracts treated?

Surgical staff perform a cataract operation.

Surgery

A cataract operation takes as little as 20 minutes to complete.
Watch a time-lapse of the surgery

A close-up of the plastic lens that's implanted into the eye during a cataract operation.

Replacement

During the operation, the clouded lens is removed and a new artificial lens is implanted inside the eye.

A patient has his eyes examined by an eye specialist.

Recovery

Vision can start to return within a few hours of surgery.
Watch Rose's reaction after surgery

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 2018, Sightsavers supported more than 355,000 cataract operations around the world. Since our work began in 1950, we have supported 7.3 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

You can help save someone’s sight

I would like to make a donation

Could pay for a life-changing adult cataract operation.

Could pay for a cataract operation for a child.

Could pay for two child cataract operations.

$
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is $3
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over $15,000

Could pay for a sight-saving cataract operation for an adult.

Could pay towards a cataract operation for a child.

Could pay for a cataract operation for a child.

$
We're sorry, but the minimum donation we can take is $3
We're sorry, but we cannot process a donation of this size online. Please contact us on [email protected] for assistance donating over $15,000

Help save someone’s sight

DONATE

More about cataracts

A surgeon operates, using only the light of a window, on a patient to save their sight from trachoma.
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Photo of sight-saving surgery is nominated for prestigious UK prize

Adriane Ohanesian’s image of a surgeon operating on a teenager in a makeshift clinic has been put forward for the Wellcome Photography Prize 2019.

A wide shot of the rural landscape in Nasir, South Sudan. The fields are very wet and the grass is a lush green.
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Saving sight in the world’s most remote locations

Trachoma, a painful eye disease, can be easily treated with antibiotics. But the challenge is reaching the people who need treatment, particularly if they live in remote areas such as Nadir in South Sudan.

The Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute.
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50,000 patients screened during first year of innovative cataract project

The Cameroon Cataract Development Impact Loan brings together public and private investors alongside eye care delivery experts and charities, including Sightsavers.

Learn about our work to save sight