South Africa

The Challenge

South Africa is home to an enormous blind population and has a severe shortage of ophthalmologists to adequately serve them. In all of South Africa, there are only 324 ophthalmologists, most of who work in populous cities. The remaining few ophthalmologists that work in rural areas are serving the majority of the population. Countrywide, there are merely a few fully qualified pediatric ophthalmologists.

Our Response

  • Orbis is developing specialized services for children's eye health
  • We’re focusing on early intervention of children under the age of six, while their sight is still developing
  • We’re speeding up the detection of eye-health problems in young children and fast-tracking their treatment and follow-up care
  • We’ve partnered with the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Cape Town, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and other thought leaders to develop a specialist pediatric fellowship program for African doctors


Our Presence

To combat this lack of available eye care, we established an office in Cape Town to develop specialized services for children's eye health and lead the way for a sustainable, comprehensive model for pediatric eye care that is accessible, high quality and affordable.

We supported the opening of a pediatric eye care center in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the poorest and most populous provinces and home to 28 percent of the country’s blind children.

We’ve also partnered with South Africa’s Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to survey one million households within the poorest communities and explore the link between poverty and vision loss.

And we’re initiating an extensive public awareness campaign in the mainstream and community press highlighting childhood blindness and steps the public can take to avoid unnecessarily blindness.

Success in South Africa

  • In 2011, we opened our state-of-the-art Pediatric Eye care Center in KwaZulu-Natal, one of South Africa’s poorest and most populous provinces, and home to 28 percent of the country’s blind children
  • This center makes KwaZulu-Natal only the second province to have a child-focused eye care facility in the country