In Palestine, 82.4% of blindness and vision impairment in people aged 50 years and older is avoidable.

Although vision loss due to eye diseases is largely avoidable, prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness and vision impairment in Palestine remains a significant challenge. 

Cataract and diabetic retinopathy are the leading causes of avoidable blindness and low vision in Palestine among people aged 50 years and over. Refractive error is the leading cause of early vision impairment in this same population.


There are several factors that have contributed to Palestine becoming one of the world’s most challenging settings for the delivery of health care services. These factors include long-lasting and ongoing political unrest, restrictions of movement that make it difficult and some times impossible for those in need  to access care, shortages in the eye health workforce, and financial instability in the eye health care system.

  • Cataract is the leading cause of blindness among  people aged 50 years and over, causing 38.0% of blindness 

  • Diabetic retinopathy is the second-leading cause of blindness among people aged 50 years and over across Palestine and the leading cause of blindness in Gaza

  • One in three Palestinians aged 50 years and over have diabetes and are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy


 In Palestine, cataract remains the leading cause of blindness accounting for  more than one in three  of the total cases among people who are 50 years of age and older. 

The available evidence also suggests that uncorrected refractive error is a leading cause of visual impairment among children. Screening data from our partners who provide care on the ground indicate that as many as one in three children in Palestine are living with some form of refractive error. 

The Fred Hollows Foundation has been working in Palestine since 2013. The Foundation was the first international development organisation aiming to end avoidable blindness in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, responding to vulnerable population needs, even during conflict. 

Currently The Foundation is focusing on treating diabetic retinopathy, refractive error, and cataract by strengthening eye care systems in the West Bank and Gaza. 

The Foundation is working closely with St John Eye Hospital Group and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees to ensure the most vulnerable people have access to comprehensive eye care and affordable services.

The Foundation's Palestine program is partially supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).