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Supporting cataract surgery backlog for Mandela Day 2023

This International Nelson Mandela Day, Life Peninsula Eye Hospital in partnership with its supporting ophthalmologists will be performing pro-bono cataract surgeries for 12 indigent patients in support of cataract backlog surgery in South Africa.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), cataract surgeries are amongst the most cost-effective health interventions, yet cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in Africa with WHO claiming that by 2050, there could be 115 million people who are cataract blind.

A cataract is a gradual clouding of the eye lens, leading to blurred or dull vision. “Cataract surgery involves removing of the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Following comprehensive assessment and workup, the procedure usually takes less than half an hour to perform and results in much improved eyesight”, says Dr Andrew Ivey, one of 18 ophthalmologists at Life Peninsula Eye Hospital.

It is estimated that in South Africa there could be around 240 000 people who are blind or partially blind due to untreated cataracts as a result of the backlog.1 “This is despite the fact that cataracts are treatable with surgery”, added Dr Ivey.

This Mandela Day, selected individuals receiving the Life Peninsula Eye Hospital pro-bono surgery are based on the severity of their conditions which have adversely affected their quality of life. “Cataract surgery procedures can correct poor eyesight within in a matter of days”, explained ophthalmologist, Dr Debbie Laaks.

Life Healthcare is sponsoring consumables while the clinical and surgical teams of Life Peninsula Eye Hospital will perform the cataract surgeries.

“Life Peninsula Eye Hospital and its specialists annually perform pro-bono cataract surgeries to reduce the backlog of patients on government hospital waiting lists as part of our purpose of making life better. We decided to align several pro-bono procedures to Mandela Day this year to highlight the benefit of partnerships in healthcare that can positively impact communities and transform lives for the better”, says Ansuyiah Padyachee, External Affairs Manager at Life Healthcare.

“Without the cataract surgery, these patients face a challenging life often with insecurity in performing everyday tasks that inhibit their contribution to family life and their communities”.

“The operation was a huge success. Previously, when I used to look down the street, it was always blurry. Now three hours after my procedure, I look down the road and I can see everything. The experience of the doctor and staff where phenomenal; they made me feel at home – comfortable and cared for. My advice to anyone with a cataract is to seek help,” said Leonard Johnson who, on 14 July 2023 had a cataract procedure done.

The Life Peninsula Eye Hospital, a dedicated ophthalmic surgical facility, opened its doors in 2016 allowing ophthalmologists to perform all forms of complex eye surgery.  It is has three ‘state-of-the-art’ eye theatres and is staffed with dedicated nurses, to perform cataract and other eye surgery.  Ophthalmologists bring their patients for eye surgery from across the Cape Peninsula.

Life Healthcare’s Eye Care Corporate Social Investment (CSI) activities

Eye Care is a focused programme that forms part of the broader Corporate Social Investment (CSI) activities at Life Healthcare, where Eye Care Awareness and cataract surgeries are also supported through various cataract blitz operations in under capacitated provinces in KZN, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Additionally, Life Healthcare’s partnership with SA National Council for the Blind (SANCB) since 2006 has improved access to eye care services in disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa. During this 17-year partner­ship Life Healthcare has donated three mobile units fitted with ophthalmic equipment to strength­en SANCB’s fleet which visits hospitals in rural areas. The Council’s Optima College also receives support from Life Healthcare for training and skills development of blind and partially sighted people.

Find more information on Life Healthcare’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives here.

Information on eye care:

Learn more about ophthalmology here.

Contact Life Peninsula Eye Hospital or speak to your GP or clinic for more information on cataract surgery.



  1. Ophthalmological Society of South Africa, Right to Sight Trust, Online,, accessed 7 July 2023.