More people living with cataract blindness will be screened and treated in Bangladesh as a result of community leaders and volunteers raising awareness of the condition and how it can be treated.

The Foundation briefed a small number of community leaders from the districts of Brahmanbaria, Jamalpur, Satkhira and Narail - to help build awareness of eye services offered by eye units at their local district hospital.

The session included information on eye disease and how cataract blindness is being treated through relatively routine surgery by trained ophthalmologists and eye health workers in their district.

These leaders then returned to their respective communities to help spread the word to over 2,000 people through their local work, cultural and religious networks.

They conducted information sessions in mosques, community rooms, and even outside thatch-roofed dwellings in villages. Information leaflets were available at the gatherings for attendees to take home to family and friends.

Community education and engagement is an important part of our work in countries like Bangladesh in helping overcome cultural barriers and the lack of knowledge about blindness prevention and treatment.

Avoidable blindness is a major health problem in Bangladesh. According to a recent survey conducted on blindness and low vision, about 7.5 million people aged 30 and above, and up to 40,000 children are blind. Cataract, a condition that is treatable through routine and cost effective surgery, accounts for up to 80 percent of this blindness.

The Foundation is working with government authorities to help build the capacity of the eye health sector to provide quality eye care services, with the aim to eliminate avoidable blindness in the country by 2020.

In 2009, The Foundation supported 2,583 sight restoring interventions in Bangladesh - including 1,871 cataract surgeries. We also trained over 500 community health workers and volunteers in primary eye care to provide referrals and basic eye care services in rural communities.

>Find out more about The Foundation's work in Bangladesh.