Sightsavers in Bangladesh

We work with the Bangladesh government and partners across South Asia to provide inclusive eye health services and help ensure everyone can reach their potential.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries and home to the largest river delta, along which many people in Bangladesh live.

Under the country’s constitution, all citizens have a right to health care, with the government aiming to provide universal health care by 2030. Yet many people struggle to access vital eye care services, particularly if they live in rural areas.

While Bangladesh has the second-largest economy in South Asia, there are still high levels of poverty and social inequality. Extreme poverty and a lack of awareness about eye conditions mean that many people in Bangladesh have sight loss that could be treated or prevented.

Sightsavers helps improve access to eye health services for everyone and runs inclusive programmes for people with disabilities to ensure they have equal access to health care, education and employment opportunities.

In August 2023, Sightsavers Bangladesh celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Facts about Bangladesh

  • Population: 167 million
  • Capital: Dhaka
  • Official language: Bangla
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 129 (medium)

650,000 adults over 30 years old are estimated to be blind

A white and yellow icon of a stack of three coins.

20.5% of people live below the poverty line

8% of the population is thought to have a disability

Sources: British Journal of Ophthalmology,
Asian Development Bank, Disability Data Portal

A landscape of fields.

What are the challenges in Bangladesh, and how can these be addressed?

A landscape of fields.

Eye care

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of untreated cataracts in the world.

Many people in Bangladesh are unable to access vital eye care because they live in rural areas. Sightsavers has been carrying out charity work in the country for more than 50 years, helping to strengthen and establish inclusive eye health services.

An eye health worker shines a torch into a woman's eyes to check for eye issues. She's wearing a colourful pink headscarf.

Our eye care work in Bangladesh

Inclusive eye screening

Regular screening can check people for eye conditions and refer them for treatment where needed.
How the Right to Health programme is ensuring everyone can access eye care

Training staff

Recruiting and training eye care workers helps to fill staffing gaps in the national eye care service, ensuring people can be treated more quickly.
Learn about eye health roles

Cataract surgery

We refer children and adults who need surgery for cataracts to hospitals where they can access good quality treatment.
How Arif’s life changed after two cataract operations as a child

Inclusion and equality

Not everyone in Bangladesh can claim their rights.

People with disabilities are often excluded from society, with women and girls facing additional barriers. Our charity work on disability rights in Bangladesh focuses on improving everyone’s access to health care, education and employment.

Munina communicates with Shamima using hand gestures.

Our inclusion work in Bangladesh

Inclusive education

Sightsavers works with local governments, teachers and parents to make schools more accessible and supportive for students with disabilities.
Learn about the importance of inclusive education

Work and training

Our Inclusive Futures initiative brings together partners and businesses to offer training and paid internships for people with disabilities. Meet the couple who refer people to an inclusive employment programme

Changing social attitudes

As part of the Inclusive Futures initiative, we’re working with BBC Media Action to train journalists to change the way people with disabilities are portrayed.
Read about the project

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A young man sitting in the driver seat of a van.

“I didn’t understand as a child, but now I understand what a gift sight is. You cannot ignore the eyes, because eyes are priceless.”

A young man sitting in the driver seat of a van.
Arif, from Dhaka, who had two cataract operations as a child

How you can help

Our charity work in Bangladesh is helping to make society more inclusive, but there’s still more to do.

With your support, we want to strengthen the nation’s eye care services and ensure everyone can access education and employment opportunities that enable them to reach their potential. To do this, we need your help.

Charity donations, legacies, corporate partnerships and gifts from charitable foundations are a vital source of funding for our programmes in Bangladesh. We also welcome opportunities to work in partnership with governments, institutions and development organisations.

Contact us: If you have any questions about our work in Bangladesh, would like more details about our programmes or find out how you can donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from Bangladesh

Sightsavers' CEO Caroline Harper poses for a group photo with staff from Sightsavers Bangladesh during its 50th anniversary celebrations in Dhaka.

Sightsavers Bangladesh marks 50-year anniversary

Sightsavers began working in Bangladesh in 1973 to diagnose and treat people for cataracts, which is one of the most common eye conditions in the country.

August 2023
Arif and his mother sit on a bed chatting.
Sightsavers stories

“Now I know what a gift sight is”

Arif’s life changed when he had two cataract operations at five years old. We've been following his journey since then, from completing his education to finding work as a driver.

Shamima and her child Toha in Bangladesh. There's an illustrated ring of small dots surrounding their faces.
Sightsavers stories

It started with a tuk-tuk: Shamima’s story

Shamima, who has hearing and speech impairments, was able to access vital treatment after her sister heard about Sightsavers’ free eye camps.

A large group of transgender women pose for a photo.
Sightsavers stories

“Now we can get the help we need”

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Right to Health project worked with transgender communities to remove the barriers they face when accessing inclusive eye health services.

Asma stands smiling in front of a large palm tree.
Sightsavers stories

“Every day is women’s day when you cherish women’s dignity”

Asma is project manager for Sightsavers’ inclusive eye health project in Bangladesh, which is breaking down the barriers women face when accessing eye care services.

Four patients wait while socially distancing for their trauchoma surgery while wearing PPE and face masks.
Sightsavers stories

Eye care and COVID-19: what we’ve learned during the pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to restart our work quickly and safely. Sightsavers staff reveal our how eye care programmes have evolved in the past 18 months.

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work