Our work in Bangladesh

In 2023, Sightsavers celebrated 50 years working in Bangladesh. Since 1973, we’ve helped to diagnose and treat hundreds of thousands of people to protect their sight.

A group of women and men in colourful clothing queue up outside; there are palm trees overhead.

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.

In 2023, Sightsavers Bangladesh celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark the milestone, Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper and staff from the country were joined by guests at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.

Watch our video below to find out about more about our work in the country.

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 had cataracts in both eyes: it was very difficult. But after the operation I see things very clearly.
    Azimunnisa after cataract surgery
    An older women smiling.

    How we’re making a difference in Bangladesh

    A man standing in front of a van.

    Treating cataracts

    Arif received Sightsavers-funded cataract surgery as a young child. Fifteen years later we caught up with Arif, now working as a driver, to see how his life was transformed.
    Read Arif'story

    A man talking into a microphone.

    Disability rights

    As part of the Inclusive Futures initiative, we're working with BBC Media Action to train journalists to change the way people with disabilities are portrayed.
    Read about the project

    A woman rests her head on a man's shoulder.

    Reaching everyone

    People with disabilities often miss out on health care in Bangladesh. Meet Jalil and Ayesha, who travel house to house, to ensure everyone gets the support they need.
    Read their story

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    More from Bangladesh

    Sightsavers' CEO Caroline Harper poses for a group photo with staff from Sightsavers Bangladesh during its 50th anniversary celebrations in Dhaka.

    Sightsavers Bangladesh marks 50-year anniversary

    Sightsavers began working in Bangladesh in 1973 to diagnose and treat people for cataracts, which is one of the most common eye conditions in the country.

    August 2023
    Arif and his mother sit on a bed chatting.
    Sightsavers Reports

    “Now I know what a gift sight is”

    Arif’s life changed when he had two cataract operations at five years old. We've been following his journey since then, from completing his education to finding work as a driver.

    Shamima and her child Toha in Bangladesh. There's an illustrated ring of small dots surrounding their faces.
    Sightsavers Reports

    It started with a tuk-tuk: Shamima’s story

    Shamima, who has hearing and speech impairments, was able to access vital treatment after her sister heard about Sightsavers’ free eye camps.

    A large group of transgender women pose for a photo.
    Sightsavers from the field

    “Now we can get the help we need”

    In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Right to Health project worked with transgender communities to remove the barriers they face when accessing inclusive eye health services.

    March 2022
    Asma stands smiling in front of a large palm tree.
    Sightsavers Reports

    “Every day is women’s day when you cherish women’s dignity”

    Asma is project manager for Sightsavers’ inclusive eye health project in Bangladesh, which is breaking down the barriers women face when accessing eye care services.

    Four patients wait while socially distancing for their trauchoma surgery while wearing PPE and face masks.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Eye care and COVID-19: what we’ve learned during the pandemic

    Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to restart our work quickly and safely. Sightsavers staff reveal our how eye care programmes have evolved in the past 18 months.

    October 2021

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    Where we work