Eye Health

Nefissa's smile has returned. Thanks to Light for the World's medical outreach programme she is once again in charge of her daily life. Cataract surgery has enabled her to care for her children again.

Photo: Nefissa Bedru flashes a smile after her successful trachomatic trichiasis surgery. Credit: Ulrich Eigner

Preserving and restoring eyesight

Light for the World can look back on almost 30 years of experience in eye care provision. Our original aim, and one of our key areas of work to this day, is to restore sight to blind people in low-income countries.

253 million people in the world are living with a visual impairment. 36 million of them are blind, and 217 million have low vision. Each of them an invidual whose daily life is severely affected by visual impairment: a grandfather who has never seen his grandchildren, a parent who wants to care for their children, or a child who cannot attend school.

80 percent of blindness is preventable if medical treatment is available. For many years now, Light for the World has been working to reduce preventable blindness. In our 15 partner countries and together with our partners we offer cataract operations, distribute medication, train ophthalmologists, build and support hospitals, and provide mobile services that offer eye care in remote areas of low and middle income countries.

What we do

  • We enable cataract surgeries
  • We conduct trachoma screenings and surgeries
  • We distribute anti-trachoma drugs to millions
  • We provide spectacles and low vision aids

Our goals are ambitious: As part of the global initiative Vision 2020, we want to eliminate preventable blindness altogether. As a member of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC), our first target is ridding humanity of the infectious eye disease trachoma by 2020. In order to achieve this, we have been scaling up our trachoma-related work in Ethiopia and Mozambique.

Spectacles for all who need them

We also aim at reducing vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors (URE). URE account for 43% of the total visual impairment conditions found worldwide.  We are partners with the International Council of Ophthalmology, and are piloting various programmes to address URE, most notably the National Intervention on Uncorrected Refractive Errors (NIURE) in collaboration with the Ugandan Ministry of Health.

Eye Health Professionals for African Countries

Addressing the dire need for eye care personnel in Sub Saharan Africa is a major focus of our work. In Mozambique we support the training of ophthalmic technicians and ophthalmologists. In Burkina Faso we established the country’s first national ophthalmology training programme in Ouagadougou. In Ethiopia we significantly contributed to increasing the number of eye care staff through two residency training programmes at the University hospitals in Jimma and Gondar. Currently, 63 doctors are pursuing their studies in ophthalmology in African countries on scholarships from Light for the World.

Jess Blijkers. Credit: Gregor Kuntscher

Your contact person for our eye health and NTD programmes: Jess Blijkers

+43 1 810 13 00 - 16
j.blijkers [at] light-for-the-world.org

What we do

Martine Bilgo gives interviews Photo: M.Bron

Martine once was a client in one of our CBR projects. She successfully graduated to become a teacher. Today she works in a school which is linked to a Light for the World CBR project.

Photo: Roukiatou with her family

Roukiatou was born with a congenital mobility impairment. A community-based rehabilitation worker put her on a path of self-reliance and independence.

Igliassu is playing with his school friends

A year ago, Igliassu could not walk because one of his legs was much shorter than the other. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD helped him enrol in an inclusive school together with his peers.