Sightsavers in Pakistan

We work with the government and partners in Pakistan and across South Asia to provide inclusive eye services and ensure everyone can claim their human rights.

Pakistan is the fifth most populated country in the world, with around 40 per cent of the population living in urban areas.

Despite being one of the first countries in South Asia to adopt a national eye care strategy, 21 million people in Pakistan are thought to have vision loss caused by common eye conditions such as cataracts, refractive error and glaucoma.

While educational attendance is improving, Pakistan still has one of the world’s highest rates of children not enrolled in school. Many students who attend primary school drop out of education when they reach secondary level, with girls and children with disabilities most at risk.

In 2020, the country’s first-ever disability rights act became law. The following year, the Government of Pakistan launched a braille version of the country’s constitution and adapted Parliament House using Sightsavers’ accessibility audit toolkit to make the building more accessible for people with disabilities. The government has also added 67 disability indicators to its national dashboard showing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Facts about Pakistan

  • Population: 247 million
  • Capital: Islamabad
  • Official languages: Urdu, English
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 161 (low)
A white and yellow icon representing an eye with cataracts. The pupil and iris are covered with dashed yellow lines.

1.8 million people in Pakistan are thought to be blind

21 million people in the country have sight loss

24% of the population has a disability

Sources: IAPB, PLOS ONE, Disability Data Portal

Sardar feeds a calf outside his home in Pakistan.

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

Sardar feeds a calf outside his home in Pakistan.

Eye care

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in Pakistan.

Many people in Pakistan have sight loss due to common eye conditions that can be treated or prevented with the right medical care. Sightsavers’ eye health work in the country aims to provide inclusive eye care services by diagnosing and treating eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.

A school student has her eyes tested while wearing optical glasses: an eye health worker's hand is changing the lenses in the glasses.

Our eye care work in Pakistan

School screening

Sightsavers trains teachers to screen children for vision problems, referring them for glasses or further treatment if they need it.
About the school screening project

Cataract surgery

Cataracts can cause blindness, but a simple operation can restore sight. We provide operations to treat cataracts and improve vision.
Learn about cataracts

Reaching everyone

We promote inclusive eye services to help remove the barriers faced by marginalised groups when accessing health care.
About Right to Health

Inclusion and equality

Not everyone in Pakistan can claim their place in society.

Many people with disabilities in Pakistan live in poverty, yet living in poverty also increases a person’s chance of having a disability. Our charity work on disability rights in Pakistan focuses on improving education and employment opportunities for everyone.

Disability rights activist Mehnaz sits in a wheelchair outside the National Assembly of Pakistan.

Our inclusion work in Pakistan

Inclusive education

We support local governments to make schools more inclusive for students with disabilities by training teachers and providing adapted learning materials.
Learn about inclusive education

Employment and training

We work with businesses to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities so they can earn a living.
Learn about Futuremakers

Collecting data

We help collect inclusive data that represents people with disabilities, and we provided technical guidance on disability questions in Pakistan’s latest census.
Why inclusive data is important

A man wearing sunglasses smiles with his two happy grandchildren.

“I didn’t have anything, but now I can make good money and improve my family’s livelihood. I am so happy!”

A man wearing sunglasses smiles with his two happy grandchildren.
Sardar, from Shahpur, after successful cataract surgery

How you can help

Our charity work in Pakistan is helping to ensure that everyone can access vital eye care and claim their human rights, but there’s still more we need to do.

With your support, we want to expand our eye health and social inclusion programmes to create a ripple effect in Pakistan, so everyone can learn, earn and thrive. 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 Pakistan. 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 Pakistan, would like more details about our programmes or wish to discuss ways to donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from Pakistan

Zahra has her eyes examined.
Sightsavers stories

Bringing eye health into the classroom

Zahra is one of the many children now thriving thanks to a Sightsavers programme to screen school students for eye conditions and health problems.

A poster for the film Noor showing the three main actors. The text reads: Selected for best health film.

Sightsavers film shortlisted for Cannes World Film Festival award

Noor, a short film about the impact of childhood visual impairment, has been selected for the ‘Best health film’ category at the Cannes World Film Festival.

February 2023
A man with a bandage over his right eye smiles for a photo with his young grandson.

Who is Hussain fundraises for Sightsavers at half-marathon

The charitable foundation is raising £35,000 for Sightsavers’ work in Pakistan through its Sprint for Sight campaign.

May 2022
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.

A panel of six speakers sit on stage at the Global Disability Summit in 2018.
Sightsavers blog

The Global Disability Summit: views from Pakistan and Kenya

Our country office teams in Pakistan and Kenya spoke to the organisations of people with disabilities they work with about their hopes for the upcoming Global Disability Summit.

Sightsavers, February 2022
A man wearing sunglasses smiles with his two happy grandchildren.
Sightsavers stories

“Now I can see again, I can make money to support my family”

Father and grandfather Sardar from Pakistan is the main breadwinner for his family. But his children and grandchildren faced an uncertain future when he began to develop cataracts.

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work