Cataracts – Papua New Guinea

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Cataracts – Papua New Guinea


Turn blindness into sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea…

Imagine being blind and isolated, unable to be with your loved ones, and having to fend for yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eyesight is something we often take for granted. Yet there are many people in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) who are needlessly blind.

PNG has the greatest prevalence of blindness in the Pacific and one of the highest rates worldwide. Although the main causes of visual impairment and blindness are preventable, children and adults who are blind or have difficulty seeing, can rarely access the support they need. The extreme lack of access to eye health services is unnecessary. It increases the economic burden on families, and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and disability among people with visual impairment.

With a COVID-19 lockdown in PNG, many people with disabilities cannot access the services they need and others risk having their life-changing surgeries delayed or cancelled. But there is good news. Because most of cbm New Zealand’s projects are medical, they are essential services and can go ahead, helping with the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and to offer care and treatment.

Having access to vital sight-saving surgery is an incredible blessing. Many people in PNG have never seen a doctor before. Approximately 86% of the population live in rural areas, however, most health services and specialists’ practices are located in larger towns. This results in many people being deeply affected by avoidable blindness. In fact, 1-in-15 men and 1-in-10 women in the remote Highlands struggle with blindness.

Blindness is often met with suspicion, as those who are blind are usually stigmatised and become victims of human rights abuse. Isolation is commonplace. But thankfully, with the support of generous people like you there is hope…


A recent study found that 5.6% of the population in Papua New Guinea aged 50 years and over experience visual impairment from un-operated cataract or blurred vision. Equipment and infrastructure for eye health services are limited and many people remain untreated or receive treatment late. Very few health personnel in Papua New Guinea are qualified to provide assessment and treatment of eye conditions. There are only 14 national ophthalmologists practicing in Papua New Guinea, far below the 80 required to attain the recommended ratio for the population of almost 9 million people. Around 40% of the population are aged 0-15 years, however there are no national ophthalmologists with paediatric specialisation to meet their needs. In general there is a lack of awareness that intervention to address visual impairment is possible. Because of these barriers, children and adults who are blind or have visual impairment can experience social challenges that put them at risk of abuse and neglect.


  • Give the miracle of sight by helping to fund sight-saving surgeries in rural communities.
  • Restore sight by helping to fund spectacles and low vision devices.
  • Help fund eye-care clinics in marginalised communities.
  • Help fund the training of local ophthalmologists.
  • Prevent avoidable blindness with eye care screening and awareness-raising in remote communities.
  • Support representative organisations of persons with visual impairment to promote their rights and social inclusion.


And right now the New Zealand Government through its Aid Programme has pledged to multiple any gift you give to Papua New Guinea x5!

Additional information


One-off, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every 4 Weeks, Every Month, Quarterly, Annually


Please help support cataract surgery in Papua New Guinea so more people like Dam can receive the miracle of sight...

Your gift will be multiplied x5 by the New Zealand Government Aid Programme!

"I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain.” – Psalm 3:4

People like you are an answer to prayer! For seven years, Dam’s prayers went up from her muddy mountaintop hut in Papua New Guinea (PNG). She was trapped in total blindness by her blinding cataracts, but she prayed with unceasing faith.

“I prayed that the Lord would give me sight,” said Dam.

Finding people like Dam in the remote Highlands can be challenging. Joseph, a dedicated cbm-funded field worker had to go the extra mile… after mile… to reach her mountaintop hut. But he eventually found her.

Avoidable blindness had shrunk her world. “I stay here, go to my son’s house and walk to the little garden,” Dam told Joseph. “I used to go down to the river to wash and fetch water. Now I can’t. I feel too afraid.”

The path to the river, and the torrent itself, are far too dangerous for someone blind with cataracts.

There is a bridge, ingeniously woven from branches, but it shakes and sways as Joseph carefully and slowly inches his way across.

One slight misstep could be tragic, but Joseph is fully determined to bring this special lady to the cbm-funded eye clinic generous people like you help support. “She wants her vision to be restored. She has been praying about it,” he says, with an inspired sense of purpose which drives him on.

 At times the track is so steep, Joseph has to carry her. In fact, it is so slippery he has to break into a run to keep from falling. His feet stay sure. He doesn’t slip. He is carrying precious Dam, who is full of hope and excitement now that her prayers are being answered!

When they finally reach the bridge, Joseph gently tells Dam, “It’s a little bit saggy”. This was the one moment when it was fortunate Dam couldn’t see. She smiled all the way over.

Please send your generous gift which will be multiplied x5 to give the Miracle of Sight to more people like Dam.

It takes them over an hour just to reach the road. Dam has never left her mountain valley in all her 60+ years. And after a long bus ride, they reach the high-altitude town of Goroka – about the size of Levin.

To Dam, Goroka is the most busy and bustling place she could ever imagine. She is overwhelmed by the sounds of all the people - but a quiet haven of care is waiting for her at the cbm-funded Goroka Eye Clinic.

Murray Sheard, CEO of cbm NZ, has visited the clinic and can tell you how wonderful it was to sit with the community leaders who came to say “Thank You” for the kindness and generosity people like you have shown to their loved ones, who cannot see or function because of their blinding cataracts.

Soon, Dam is in the operating room, as her cbm-funded eye surgeon precisely removes the hazy disks that have held her life captive for seven years. He skillfully inserts crystal-clear new lenses, perfectly matched to the exact grade of Dam’s eyes.

And thanks to generous people like you, Dam does not have to pay a thing. Even if she wanted to, she couldn’t. Money is not a part of her life. The entire cost of finding her, bringing her to the cbm-funded eye clinic, training her surgeon, funding her surgery and all the supplies her operation needed – have all been given through generosity like yours, along with being multiplied x5 by the New Zealand Government Aid Programme.

Please help move mountains for more people like Dam. Your selfless gift will be multiplied x5 to help restore sight and to help train much-needed ophthalmologists.

Dam’s cbm-funded surgeon says, “I’m quite sure the result will be very good. I expect to have a very happy patient tomorrow”.

He was right. The next morning, Dam’s most fervent prayer came true, as the protective pads were taken from her eyes and the light of life floods in. “I can see!” Dam cried.

Dam’s support person, her niece who calls her Grandma, waves happily, “Can you see me?”

“I can see,” Dam gladly replies, eyes sparkling with delight. “Both eyes can see!”

It is such a blessed and joyful scene when sight is restored – and it is happening because of generous people like you. You truly can be an answer to people’s greatest prayer in life.

Soon, Dam is on her way home, looking forward to her new life. Not a cosy or comfortable retirement, yet one so full of joy, because her survival is assured and she no longer has to worry about being a burden to her family, in their extreme poverty.

“Thank you, thank you,” she said. “Now I can hold my head high. I feel so grateful.”

Dam is grateful to God and grateful to people like you for your kind and generous heart. She is so thankful for an answer to her prayer.

Watch a short video of Dam’s transformational journey, from her remote village in the Highlands to receiving her miracle of sight...

What a wonderful testimony this is. But right now there are many other precious people in need, like Dam, praying for their Miracle of Sight. Crying out to God for the chance to see again.

Please prayerfully consider their prayers and help them to receive the Miracle of Sight by sending your generous gift which will be multiplied x5 to help restore the sight of our near neighbours.

Your gift will help provide inclusive eye health services, to protect eyes, provide glasses, and fund surgical supplies used in cataract surgeries. And you will also help provide training for local doctors as much-needed ophthalmologists in PNG.

Or become an Eye Champion and a send a monthly gift which will be multiplied x5, so that more people like Dam can experience the Miracle of Sight for themselves.

We think of Joseph bringing Dam across that rickety but reliable bridge. You too can be a bridge for people trapped in the cloudy haze of cataract blindness. You too can help to lift them over a gulf of blindness they could never cross on their own. Thank you for playing your part in making their prayers and greatest hopes come true.

Generous cbm supporters, like you, truly bring light to the world. Please send your sight-saving gift today so more people like Dam, in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea, can experience the Miracle of Sight! Thank you.

Dam did everything she could to overcome her life-shattering cataract blindness. She prayed! Through seven lonely blind years, her cataracts made her extreme poverty even worse. Thankfully, her prayer was answered through generosity like yours. Please let this Miracle of Sight happen for more people like Dam living with avoidable blindness, by sending your gift today. Your generosity will be multiplied x5 by the New Zealand Government Aid Programme, to give precious people in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea the Miracle of Sight.