Saving sight

Smiling Serkie with her husband and child wearing an eye-patch after surgery for trachoma.

Our impact last year

  • 29m people treated for blinding diseases
  • 605k people given sight-restoring cataract surgery
  • 446k glasses and low vision devices distributed

It is estimated that 75% of all blindness is avoidable. That means 3/4 people who are blind don’t need to be.

Put simply, millions of people around the world are needlessly blind because they can’t get simple surgery or treatment that could save their sight. And too often, if you live in a poor community, going blind means losing your chance to go to school, earn a living or live independently.

CBM works across the world’s poorest countries to prevent avoidable blindness and restore sight.

Blindness and visual impairment around the world

  • 36 million people around the world are blind, while 217 million are visually impaired. The vast majority live in developing countries.
  • Around half of all blindness is caused by cataract, where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts can be treated with simple surgery, which costs as little as £24 for an adult or £95 for a child.
  • Other conditions that can cause blindness such as glaucoma, retinal diseases, trachoma and Vitamin A deficiency occur frequently in the developing world.
  • Two-thirds of blind people are women. In wealthier countries this is because women live longer than men; in developing countries, it is because women are less likely to get the healthcare they need.

How we help

CBM saves sight in the poorest places of the world by:

  • Treating blinding diseases like river blindness and trachoma. Medicines to treat these diseases can cost as little as 16p.
  • Enabling adults and children to access sight-restoring cataract surgery, including through outreach camps in remote places far from the nearest eye hospital.
  • Training specialist doctors, nurses and other health workers to identify and treat eye conditions, and equipping hospital eye departments.
  • Supporting screening programmes that find people who need help and enable them to access treatment.
  • Supporting Governments in countries where we work to improve eye health services for the long-term.
  • Providing glasses and low vision devices to people who are visually impaired.

In action

Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Nigeria

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of conditions that cause long-term suffering and often result in…

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6-year-old Gokul from India having an eye examination after successful cataract surgery

Improving access to quality eye health services in India

An estimated 11 million Indians are blind. In the majority of cases, blindness could be avoided if eye health…

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Preventing blindness in Northern Zimbabwe

An estimated 60,000 people are in need of sight-restoring cataract surgery in Manicaland and Mashonaland West…

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Claude from Cameroon has cataracts

Reducing childhood blindness in Nigeria, West Africa

No child should be needlessly blind, but in Nigeria, West Africa a lack of eye health services means that many children

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Transforming lives

Baby Gabriel wearing glasses


“Without the laser treatment the risk for Gabriel of going blind would have been very high”

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Shakulu wearing glasses, sat with his mother Zaitun. Both smiling after successful cataract surgery.


“Shakulu now goes to school… He is seeing everything for the first time.”

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Follow 8-year-old Whitney's journey from blindness to sight


8 year-old Whitney lives in a village in Uganda with her mother and 2 younger siblings. For years, she was blind with no hope of sight…

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Ophthalmic clinical officer Aloys
10th Oct 2019

World Sight Day 2019

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Schoolchildren using a hand dug well, funded by CBM, at a primary school in Ethiopia ©CBM/Diemer
15th Nov 2019

Trachoma Elimination in Ethiopia – making a difference with F&E

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