How Virtual Reality Could End Blindness

Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. A cloudy patch in the eye lens that can obstruct vision, 90% of the 100 million people worldwide with the condition live in developing countries, where they often struggle to receive treatment. So what’s the solution?

Virtual Reality 

Founded in 2010, HelpMeSee is developing virtual reality simulation technology, currently used to train pilots, to speed up the training process for surgeons to perform a 5-minute eye surgery that cures cataracts. Recreating life-like surgical situations, cataract specialists will be able to receive their 400 hours of training in under six months, rather than within several years.

Will it Work?

It seems so, yes. Even though their technology is still not completely ready, HelpMeSee has already managed to train  282 surgeons across Asia, Africa and Latin America to use the 5-minute $25-per-eye surgical technique their technology will teach. They’ve also managed to eradicate cataract blindness in Chitrakoot, India- a city of over a million people.

And on top of this, they’re widely recognised internationally. Apart from receiving support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they’ve won a Classy Award for being one of the Top 10 Innovative Charities of 2016 and an award for Simulation in Ophthalmology.

The Future

The organisation has big hopes for the future. Short-term, they plan on eliminating cataract blindness in India by performing over a million surgeries by 2020. Long-term, they aim to train 30,000 surgery specialists in specially designed training centres around the world to eradicate cataract blindness within 20 years.

HelpMeSee’s virtual reality program has the potential to see a rapid scale-up in training for cataract specialists. Coming on top of the success they already have in training local specialists, their technology is promising as an end to cataracts being the world’s leading cause of blindness.



Annie Lennon

Writer with an insatiable curiosity for people, facts and places. Currently interested in learning more about making our way towards a blue economy.