In a campaign launched to mark World Sight Day, Sight Savers International, a U.K.-based charity, aims to track down and save Bangladeshi children in need of cataract surgery.
Since last year, Sight Savers' activities have saved 2,500 children from blindness. The procedure includes two surgeries: one to remove the cataract and a second to implant an intra-ocular lens (I.O.L).
Ms. Caroline Harper, Chief Executive of Sight Savers International, said: "Scouring every village in a country with a population of 150 million to find these children in time is a huge challenge but the alternative is that they face a lifetime of hardship and poverty. The earlier we can find these children, the more likely we are to be successful."
Sight Savers' workers will visit even the most remote village of the country to locate these children. The organisation executes its work with the aid of a network of Bangladeshi religious leaders, hospital doctors and consultants. Every three months, the organisation scans around 25,000 Bangladeshi youngsters. It aims to conduct 20,000 cataract operations by the end of 2008.
Surgery to prevent blindness can cost as little as 27 pounds, or about 1,200 rupees, per child. But the cost of training paediatric ophthalmologists and buying specialist surgical equipment, as well as the detailed work of finding the children, costs more.
It has been estimated that if this problem is left untreated, the number of blind people in the world will increase from 44 million (2000) to 76 million by the year 2020.