We prevent blindness and restore sight

India has the largest population of blind people in the world. That’s over 12 million people. Most of them live in the poorest parts of the country with little or no access to even basic health care facilities.

But did you know that 80 per cent of them (9.6 million) could have been prevented from going blind if they had received timely treatment? But poverty – which is both a cause and effect of blindness – can be very hard to break out of, especially in the rural areas where most blind people live.

Promoting eye health in India

Preventing blindness increases access to education, employment and prosperity, and enables greater participation in civil, social and political life. Below are some of the eye conditions we help overcome to promote eye health and restore sight:

For every rupee spent on eye health, there is a four-fold return


Here are some of the eye conditions we’re up against:

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors cover eye disorders caused by an irregularity in the eye’s shape. Such a condition makes it difficult for the eye to focus clearly on images, resulting in blurred and impaired vision. It is the second leading cause of blindness in India (after cataract), and according to the World Health Organization, 153 million people worldwide live with visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors.

Refractive errors include problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (an irregularly curved cornea). Although refractive errors can’t be prevented, they can be treated after they are detected.


The Solution

RETAIN SMILEZ works with local partners in communities to:

  • Screen and refer people in need of spectacles, contact
  • lenses or surgery
  • Provide free spectacles, contact lenses or surgery

Why not help treat someone with a refractive error today?



Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens – the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and producing clear, sharp images. It is the leading cause of blindness in India.

The lens of the human eye is made up mainly of water and protein. Over time, protein can build up to cloud the light passing through the eye, and result in blurred or fuzzy vision. For most people, cataracts are a natural result of aging.

Cataracts often develop in both eyes at the same time. The symptoms vary, but include a gradual blurring of vision, halos around lights, glare and double vision. The worst type of cataracts – where the iris appears almost entirely clouded over – can cause a total loss of vision.

Although cataracts cannot be prevented, they are relatively easy to cure. A cataract operation takes as little as 20 minutes.

Causes of cataract

There is no single cause of cataract. A number of risk factors seem to have an impact. While some risks can be reduced through a change in lifestyle, others may not.


The Solution

We work with local partners in communities to:

  • Screen and refer people in need of cataract treatment
  • Provide free cataract surgery, transport and follow up care
  • Train new eye-care personnel
  • Improve service standards

We supported more than 1,36,000 LAKH sight restoring cataract operations in India between 1985 and 2016.

Help treat cataract and prevent someone from going blind today!



Glaucoma describes a group of eye conditions and is usually caused when the eye’s drainage tubes block, causing pressure which can damage the optic nerve. It’s treatable but it needs to be detected as early as possible, because any damage already caused to the eyesight is irreversible. It is another leading cause of blindness in India.

For more information on neglected tropical diseases, please see the World Health Organization website.


The Solution

Retain smiles supports local partners to screen, refer and treat people with low vision, diabetic retinopathy, childhood blindness and the group of 17 diseases known as neglected tropical diseases.

Help treat someone with glaucoma today!


Childhood blindness

What is childhood blindness?

Blindness is more common in poor countries than in rich ones. The main cause – corneal scarring – is rooted in poor diet (lack of Vitamin A) and inadequate sanitation. Retain Smilez is working to address both.

Children in low-income countries are four times more likely to be blind than those born in high-income countries such as the UK. Of the 45 million people worldwide who are blind, around 1.4 million are children under 16. The vast majority of childhood blindness happens before the age of five – a period when 75 per cent of learning is through sight.


The Solution

Retain Smiles works with local partners in communities to:

  • Reduce the two main causes of childhood blindness, i.e. corneal scarring (the drying and scarring of the outer eye due to vitamin A deficiency and inadequate sanitation) and cataract (the clouding of the eye’s lens)
  • Prevent blindness later in life by treating trachoma and river blindness.

Help prevent a child from unnecessarily going blind



Trachoma is a potentially blinding eye infection, found worldwide. Though claimed to be eradicated from India, many cases are still found with this condition.

The facts about trachoma

Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness

Eight million worldwide are blind due to trachoma and more than 150 million people need treatment for trachoma, according to The World Health Organization (WHO)

Trachoma occurs where people live in overcrowded conditions with limited access to sanitation

Children and trachoma

Demographically, active trachoma is most prevalent in children, although the scarring doesn’t usually become visible until the early 20s. For those who have suffered since childhood, trichiasis normally sets in during their 40s – or even earlier in the worst-affected areas.

Women and trachoma

Women are more susceptible to trachoma than men because they spend more time in contact with children, providing childcare.


The Solution

Retain Smiles works with local partners in communities to treat Trachoma:

Help prevent a child & woman in fighting Trachoma