Smiling doctors and nurses in green scrubs at the Sajida Foundation in Bangladesh

Fighting blindness in Bangladesh

Orbis started its journey in Bangladesh in 1985 when the Flying Eye Hospital first touched down. Working with local partners, Orbis focuses on eye disease prevention and sight restoration within rural areas of Bangladesh.

A key part of our work in Bangladesh involves working with the displaced Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. Since 2018, working with our local partners, we have provided eye screenings and surgeries to prevent avoidable blindness. Orbis were the first charity to set up a vision centre within the refugee camp, saving the sight of many displaced people.

Avoidable Blindness in Bangladesh

With around only 1,200 ophthalmologists, Bangladesh faces daunting challenges in delivering quality eye care to its population of 173 million people. Across the country, 950,000 people live with blindness.

For the many people living in rural areas, eye care is especially hard to access.

Cataracts, refractive error, retinopathy of prematurity and diabetic retinopathy are all key causes of vision loss in Bangladesh.

Supporting Rohingya Refugees

Since Orbis began working in Cox’s Bazar in 2018, the organisation and its partners have completed 569,374 eye screenings, performed 13,679 surgeries and provided 25,267 pairs of glasses.

A 2019 Orbis survey carried out among the Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar showed an extremely high demand for eye care services across all ages.

The survey found that over a third of children aged 5-11 years, and nearly two thirds of those over 60, needed some form of eye care treatment. Among the Rohingya and host population, the majority of vision loss is due to refractive error and cataract - problems that can usually be rectified with glasses and straightforward, effective surgery.

Saving Sight in Bangladesh

Over the years with the help of our supporters and local partners we have:

  • Worked with the government, WHO and NGOs to integrate eye care for the displaced Rohingya community in Cox's Bazar
  • Equipped 400 community clinics with vision screening equipment
  • Established and strengthened 7 Retinopathy of Prematurity centres to improve services
  • Set up 9 centres for Diabetic Retinopathy screening at district hospitals
  • Established a digital training hub

Impact In 2022

What's Next?

Orbis is working with partners to:

  • Strengthen the four existing Paediatric Eye Care Centres to provide surgery
  • Strengthen community and facility-based primary eye care services
  • Promote eye care for all with a focus on women, girls, people with disability, and displaced populations, including Rohingya refugees
  • Strengthen service delivery of local eye care teams through an integrated approach and simulation-based training
  • Generate evidence through program data and research to improve quality, policy and for use in advocacy

Watch: Empowering women through Green Vision Centers

Help support our sight saving work in Bangladesh

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