Saving sight

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

Our impact last year

  • 8.2m people treated for blinding diseases
  • 434k people given sight-restoring cataract surgery
  • 678k glasses and low vision devices distributed

It is estimated that 80% of all blindness is avoidable. That means 8 out of every 10 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.
  • Every year, an estimated 250,000-500,000 children become blind in developing countries.

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

Benita smiling after surgery for cataracts.

Combatting blindness in Peru

In Peru, over 40% of the population live in poverty. Cataract is the leading cause of avoidable blindness…

Read more

Eliminating blinding trachoma in Kenya

Most people affected by trachoma in Kenya live in isolated, rural areas in the north of the country, with little or…

Read more

Eliminating blinding trachoma in Uganda

If untreated, the eye infection Trachoma causes first itching, then intense pain and finally blindness. One third of…

Read more

Glaucoma treatment trial

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. Without effective treatment, it leads to permanent…

Read more

Improving access to cataract surgery in Ivory Coast

Cataracts cause about half of all blindness. They can be easily treated, but for most people in Ivory Coast the…

Read more

Preventing blindness in Northern Zimbabwe

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

Read more

Restoring Sight, Transforming Lives

4.3 million people in the Philippines live with visual impairment. We’re working with our partners to prevent…

Read more
Elysee with her grandmother Genevieve after cataract operation.

Saving sight in remote communities

An estimated 1.2% of the population of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are blind. Many people have no access to…

Read more
Cataract patients wearing eye bandages following their surgery.

Training eye-specialist doctors for West Africa

Many people living in poor communities can’t access treatment that would prevent them becoming blind, or restore…

Read more

Treating and preventing blindness in Sierra Leone

More than 100,000 people in Sierra Leone are blind, many as a result of conditions that could easily be treated…

Read more
Women and son hugging.

Treating blinding diseases

Blinding diseases like trachoma and river blindness flourish in conditions of poverty, causing pain and blindness…

Read more
Omari and his father, Amiri can't stop smiling as a doctor comes and removes the bandages after cataract surgery.

Treating childhood blindness across East Africa

Poor eyesight has a huge impact on the future of a child in East Africa – children who can’t see are much less likely…

Read more

Transforming lives

Edward wearing an eye bandage after his cataract surgery at CBM partner in Tanzania.


“I wish very much to be able to see again. Then I can go back to school – and the teacher will not tell me off anymore…”

Read more
Joyce having her eyes checked after her Trachoma operation in Uganda.


“I expect good things in the future; I hope to be able to do a bit more work at home and move around more easily…”

Read more
Morgan from Kenya was diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts.


“I am grateful that through well-wishers he has received medical care and cataract surgery all paid for and is on the road to recovery. I wouldn’t be able to afford all that money..”

Read more
Omari and his father, Amiri can't stop smiling as a doctor comes and removes the bandages after cataract surgery.


“I can see much better Daddy, the clouds are gone. I look forward to going back to school”.

Read more
Vaileth & Susana both have cataracts and were treated by CBM's partner in Tanzania

Vaileth and Susana

“Now they can see better, I hope the girls can go to school to get an education so they can live a better life. Thank you so much.”

Read more


8th Feb 2018

Coming together to prevent childhood blindness in Nigeria

Read full story


Reason Paivha
30th Jan 2018

A visit to CBM’s sight-saving programme in Zimbabwe

Read full story

Sign up for our e-news! Enter your email to receive up-to-date news on CBM.

Please complete the fields below: