While the cost of cataract surgery varies depending on the specific operating environments in the countries where we work, in some countries it is possible to restore sight for as little as $25.
Our $25 cost includes the three key things needed to restore sight – the surgeon’s time, the consumable equipment and the intraocular lens (IOL) which replaces the cataract.
The most important element in modern cataract surgery is the IOL – Fred Hollows used to refer to them as "the most expensive pieces of plastic in the world". Reducing the cost of the IOL was the fundamental factor in making cataract surgery affordable.
Today, IOL prices vary significantly – including in low and middle-income countries.
In October 2021 The Foundation evaluated our program costs for small incision cataract surgery in countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Cambodia to ensure the $25 cost remained accurate.
Our assessment showed IOLs start from $4 in Pakistan, about $6 in Cambodia, and about $14 in Bangladesh.
The other key costs are the surgeon’s time (which is less than $1.50 per patient in those three countries) and consumable equipment (as little as $5.46).
So with the cost of the IOL, the surgeon and the consumables it is possible that The Foundation can restore sight for as little as $25 in some countries.
We acknowledge that not all surgeries in all countries are as little as $25. The cost of surgery depends on factors including the country of treatment, the age and circumstances of the patient, how and where the treatment is delivered, the type of procedure, the IOL used, the hospital type (government or private), the facilities of the hospital, inpatient or day procedure delivery mechanisms, and the economic status of people in the country or region.