UK Government Backs “Final Push” Towards Funding a Million Treatments To Save Sight

A growing ageing global population and lifestyle changes are set to drive a steep rise in avoidable blindness unless efforts to combat them are stepped up, according to new research published in The Lancet for World Sight Day (12 October).

Peter-Joseph-1400x788The Lancet paper identifies the causes behind a predicted tripling of the number of blind people by 2050 unless action to combat them is stepped up – highlighting the importance of increasing efforts to tackle preventable blindness, the biggest cause of which is cataract.

Sightsavers launch final push for Million Miracles Appeal, backed by UK Government.

That is why, to mark World Sight Day, Sussex based Sightsavers is announcing a “final push” in its “Million Miracles” campaign to raise funds for a million cataract treatments in developing countries, supported by the UK Government.

Through the UK Aid Match scheme, donations to the “Million Miracles” appeal will be matched pound for pound, doubling the impact of the UK public’s support.

“Million Miracles” was launched in 2014 to raise the money to pay for a million cataract operations for adults and children across Africa and Asia, so far it has raised funds to pay for more than 811,000 surgeries.

Members of the public are being urged to donate to our cataract work and help us reach the appeal’s goal and, between now and 9 January 2018, the UK government will match these donations.

Cataract is among the most easily treatable conditions in the UK and is associated with an ageing population. However, in many developing countries, a lack of available treatment means cataract is set to be a growing problem.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: Around the world, millions of people are suffering from preventable visual impairments, but Sightsavers is providing the life changing help that’s needed, restoring the sight of people in some of the world’s poorest countries. The Million Miracles appeal will fund the surgery needed to give people back their sight, enabling them to build a bright future for themselves and their families.

“Every donation made by the generous British public to the Million Miracles appeal will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government, meaning we will double the difference Britons can make to those children and adults in Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are suffering from preventable blindness.”

Sightsavers Chief Executive Officer, Dr Caroline Harper, said: “I am very concerned to hear that the levels of avoidable blindness, which had been steadily declining, are now projected to increase significantly over the next few decades.

This means we must redouble our efforts, especially to treat cataracts which are the biggest cause of blindness in developing countries. Our partnership with the UK government will put fresh impetus into our ‘A Million Miracles’ campaign. We are over 80% of the way there so this is the final push to reach our target”

The funding received through UK Aid Match will be used for projects in Pakistan and Bangladesh, two countries with large numbers of poor people who need support to access life transforming cataract surgery.

To mark the start of the appeal Sightsavers is hosting a public exhibition at London’s Southbank showing the transformative impact on people’s lives of cataract surgery. 

All the new information on the levels and causes of blindness and visual impairment worldwide is now available from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’s online Vision Atlas which is supported by Sightsavers.