South Africa

There are approximately six ophthalmologists serving every million South Africans.

Facing the Challenge

South Africa is home to a large blind population and has a severe shortage of ophthalmologists who serve South Africans living in rural areas. Countrywide, there are a few fully qualified paediatric ophthalmologists and 30% of the population is under the age of 15. More than 11% of persons between the ages of 5 and 19 have mild to severe visual impairment.

Our Reponse

• Orbis Africa is developing specialised services with a focus on early intervention for children under the age of six as their sight is still developing.

• Orbis Africa is speeding up the detection of eye-health problems in young children and fast-tracking their treatment and follow-up care.

• We are working with partners to reduce the backlog in adult cataract surgery so that key teaching facilities can focus on essential teaching and paediatric services.

Our Presence

From our office in Cape Town we are leading the way for a regenerative, comprehensive model for paediatric eye care that is accessible, high quality and affordable.

Following the success of Orbis’s first project in South Africa, which established a tertiary child eye care hospital and strengthened the eye health system in KwaZulu-Natal, Orbis Africa was invited to work in Gauteng Province in 2015.

Through a dynamic public private partnership with the Gauteng Department of Health and national retailer Truworths, Orbis has transformed the Eye Clinic at Lenasia South Community Health Centre.

We work closely with partners to advocate for a comprehensive framework that sees child eye health integrated into the broader healthcare system.


• In 2011, we opened our state-of-the-art Paediatric Eye Care Centre in KwaZulu-Natal province, the second in the country.

• In 2017 we opened the second cataract surgical centre in the Gauteng province.

• We collaborated at a grass-roots level with Early Childhood Development practitioners and Traditional Healers in the informal sector.

• A consortium of partners - Brien Holden Vision Institute, Orbis Africa and Dublin Institute of Technology - has committed to a five-year collaboration, with national government, to develop an integrated framework for comprehensive child eye health services in South Africa.