Our work in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of untreated cataracts worldwide. In 2019, Sightsavers helped to screen more than one 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
  • Right to Health
  • Cataract surgery
  • Inclusive Futures
  • 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

    Three people holding hands and smiling.
    Sightsavers from the field

    The businesses embracing disability inclusion

    Meet the teams that Sightsavers partners with around the world to help them foster more disability inclusive workplaces.

    November 2020
    A boy having his eyes checked. The ophthalmologist and the boy are both wearing face coverings and there is a protective screen between them.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Programme staff: “How we adapted our eye health projects during COVID-19”

    Sightsavers staff provide a first-hand insight into our work with ministries of health, partner hospitals and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    October 2020
    Many people sit outside waiting for an eye examination.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Nine steps to holding pop-up eye screening camps on the doorsteps of marginalised communities

    In February 2020, Sightsavers' Kirsty Bridger visited Bangladesh to learn how we organise our eye screening camps.

    October 2020
    Two Two women and a man stand outside a small home in an informal urban settlement.
    Sightsavers Reports

    Hasina feared she wouldn’t see people coming to demolish her home again

    Hasina lives in a camp in northern Bangladesh which has been demolished twice. Since developing cataracts, her fears of being homeless again were heightened.

    A man with a physical disability sits outside.
    Sightsavers Reports

    A lightning strike changed Yousub’s life forever

    Yousub has come up against decades-long hardships, but with with a sight-saving cataract operation, life is finally looking better. Here, he shares his remarkable story.

    A man who uses a wheelchair is assisted by another man to use a water tap to wash his hands.
    Sightsavers blog

    Disability and COVID-19 in Bangladesh: why urgent action is needed

    Sightsavers has identified focus areas for influencing the government and donor agencies to protect people with disabilities from the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

    Ayon Debnath, July 2020
    A man talking into a microphone.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Tackling disability discrimination with BBC Media Action

    In Bangladesh, we caught up with BBC Media Action to find out how they’re training journalists to improve how people with disabilities are portrayed in the media, and tackle negative stereotyping and perceptions.

    June 2020
    A man and women sat on a motorbike.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Mapping via motorbike

    This husband and wife team are helping us locate and support people with disabilities in Bangladesh.

    May 2020
    Landscape with rubbish and cows.
    Sightsavers from the field

    COVID-19: updates from around the world

    Find out how our staff and partners in Bangladesh, Nigeria, India and Senegal are adapting amid the COVID-19 crisis.

    May 2020
    A tuk tuk passes a group of women.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Meet the miking team, spreading the word about free eye health care

    In Bangladesh, we know the best way to make sure no one is left behind is to take health information directly to their doorstep. Enter the miking team!

    April 2020
    Women wait in line for eye screening tests.
    Sightsavers blog

    “We put a special focus on women with disabilities and their rights.”

    On international Women’s Day, Sightsavers' Asma Rashida highlights the additional prejudices women with disabilities face, and the important work of the Right to Health project.

    Sightsavers, March 2020
    Sightsavers Reports

    Claiming rights and restoring sight: Shamima’s story

    Shamima, who is hearing and speech impaired, has developed a unique way to communicate with her close family.

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    Where we work