SightFirst China Action
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness and the second leading cause of visual impairment globally. It is estimated that over 20 percent of those blind from cataract in the world live in China, and this number is projected to significantly rise by 2050 as the population continues to age. LCIF has partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Hospital Administration, and the Chinese Disabled Person’s Federation on the SightFirst China Action (SFCA) project for over twenty years to address the eye care needs of China. While accessibility and affordability of cataract surgery has dramatically improved in China over the last two decades, there is still more to achieve. SFCA I was launched in 1999 with a SightFirst grant of US$15.38 million. Phase I, which was completed in 2002, supported 2.1 million cataract surgeries and established surgical eye units in 104 rural counties. In 2002, a SightFirst grant in the amount of US$15.5 million was approved for Phase II of SFCA. During this phase, nearly 3 million cataract surgeries were performed and eye care infrastructure was strengthened by creating secondary eye care units at hospitals in 200 counties. Phase III of SFCA was launched during Lions World Sight Day in 2011. Several SightFirst grants were approved to support this phase, in the total amount of US$5.98 million. Through this phase, programs were launched to assess the presence of active trachoma in mainland China, increase low vision services in Liaoning and Guangdong provinces and develop a regional training program model in Liaoning province. In 2018, a five-year cooperative agreement for Phase IV was signed between the National Institute of Hospital Administration and LCIF. This phase aims to address uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy, eye health education, and eye care service quality and capacity. As the first international volunteer service organization in China, Lions Clubs International is proud that this partnership created one of LCIF’s largest and most successful SightFirst programs.