Zambian patient Gladys has a cataract caused by trauma to the eye

Avoidable blindness

Imagine losing your sight in one of the poorest regions in the world. Where would you turn for help? With few quality eye doctors, hospitals or clinics, your chances of getting the right kind of care are small. As your sight gets worse, your chances of getting an education or earning a steady income evaporate and you risk becoming blind for life.

The problem

This is the reality facing millions of people around the world today. Globally, there are 43 million people living with blindness and 295 million people living with moderate-to-severe visual impairment. Out of these, a huge 77% is completely preventable or treatable.

If they had been able to access the eye care they need, like a simple cataract surgery or a pair of glasses – the kind of care so many of us take for granted – they would be able to see clearly today.

Fortunately, the eye health community has a proven track record of getting results.

And with your support and our amazing volunteers, we can not only give people their sight back today, but we can also help build a lasting legacy of quality eye care – ensuring no one goes needlessly blind tomorrow.

Back in 2017 The Lancet Global Health reported that avoidable blindness was set to triple by 2050, reaching a shocking 115 million people.

However, the latest data published in March 2021 shows that by 2050 there is likely to be around 60 million people living with blindness.

This is a huge reduction in the original estimate, demonstrating how the hard work of the global eye care community – including Orbis and our volunteers, partners and supporters – is helping to save sight every day.

Eliminating avoidable blindness is one of the most effective ways of fighting poverty. For every £1 spent on restoring vision, more than £4 is returned to the local economy.

But of course, people are not just statistics. At Orbis, we believe everyone deserves the same opportunity to see the sun rise in the morning, regardless of where they are born.

Our solution

In most cases, what is needed to help someone see is relatively straightforward – providing glasses, removing a cataract, antibiotics or raising awareness of good eye care can be enough to prevent a lifetime of blindness.

The challenge is building lasting structures that can deliver the type of care needed for generations to come. At Orbis, we know the only way to make a real difference is to help build strong health systems that will go the distance and ensure people receive good, quality eye care when they need it.

More than three decades ago, our fight against avoidable blindness began with the launch of our first Flying Eye Hospital. Today, our global team of expert volunteers continue to fly around the world providing much needed medical training and education to eye care teams. Our partnerships with governments, health ministries, non-governmental organisations and local hospitals will ensure that we continue to pull together to fight blindness around the world.

Take a look below to find out more about how we do it.