Sightsavers works to eliminate avoidable blindness and get equality for people with disabilities. The charity helps blind people to see, prevents others from going blind unnecessarily, and supports people to live independently if their sight loss can’t be undone.
A huge 80 per cent of visual impairment could be prevented or cured, and Sightsavers works in more than 30 of the world’s poorest countries to tackle the causes of avoidable blindness and campaign for the rights of people with disabilities.
For this appeal, we’re focusing on the blinding disease trachoma, which is the world’s leading cause of avoidable blindness. It’s a bacterial infection that’s easily spread, especially between mothers and children.
Repeated infections cause your eyelashes to turn inwards, scratching your eye painfully with every blink and eventually making you go blind. Surgery to treat the problem and restore sight can cost as little as £8.
Trachoma currently affects 40 million people across Africa, and Sightsavers wants to eliminate the disease in the countries it works in by 2020.
Hadiya, a farmer, put up with trachoma for many years. When the condition develops to the advanced stages, it’s so painful people often pluck out their eyelashes to stop them turning in and so scratching the cornea. After seeing an advert for an eye camp funded by Sightsavers, Hadiya attended and was referred for surgery. After the half-hour operation, her first question was “When can I return to work?”
When we met Hafe, not only were his eyes in agony with every blink, but his house had just been destroyed by a flood. It was sheer coincidence that a sanitation inspector assessing the damage recognised Hafe had advanced trachoma and told him it could be treated. Now he’s able to see properly and work again, thanks to an £8 operation.