Approximately 240,000 South Africans are blind from cataracts. According to the Fred Hollows Foundation the backlog of cataract cases is increasing every year.

Mercy Vision South Africa plans to reduce the prevalence of blindness due to cataracts by building capacity in the local public eye care system.
The burden of the health crisis is borne largely by the poor and rural population. Mercy Ships trains government recommended South African ophthalmologists who serve in public hospitals and return home after training to serve the country’s 36 million medically indigent people. The goal is to increase the rate of cataract operations per trained doctor by 400 percent annually.

Through this project, Mercy Ships is partnering with local eye care providers including The National Council for the Blind, The South African Department of Health, local government, private hospitals and the Fred Hollows Foundation. Spiritual and emotional counseling is offered particularly to those for whom no medical help is possible.

• Number of blind people in South Africa: 400, 000
• Main causes of blindness: Cataracts (60%)
• Number of people blind with cataracts: 240,000
• Number of cataract operations performed annually: 850 per million population
The Project at a glance

Project Code: MVSA01
Project Goal: To reduce the prevalence of blindness due to cataracts and build capacity of the local public eye care system over the next 5 years.
Project Objectives:
• To provide specialised surgery for 60,000   people blind due to cataracts.
• To provide quality surgery to the extent that more   than 97% of patients undergoing cataract   surgery have improved visual acuity.
• To provide specialised training in high volume   cataract removal for two local surgeons per year   on board the Africa Mercy.
Total Project Duration:
March 2008 - December 2012
Project Manager and Staff:
• 2 Ophthalmic Surgeons for training per year.
• 1 Ophthalmic Specialist on board the Africa    Mercy.
• 1 Project Manager in South Africa.
South Africa Office: Mr. John Rae - National Director, Mercy Ships Southern Africa email:

View Project Summary