According to China’s Ministry of Health, China has approximately 5 million cataract patients, with an increase of 500,000 new cases each year and most of them live in rural areas. Cataract generally affects older people, but in rural areas in China it can be a genetic disease and more and more younger generation is diagnosed with cataract. Cases of cataract are higher in rural areas than in the city. It is because of the hygienic conditions, and the harsh physical labour which causes more youth and children to contract cataract early. Because of the impoverished environment, these people cannot obtain proper treatment and they spend their lives in darkness, waiting for help and most of the time, waiting in despair.Lifeline Express is the first mobile charity eye hospital in China, and was a gift for mainland people from Hong Kong charity donators when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. In 1999 and 2002 the second and third Eye-trains were added, In 2009, a fourth Eye-train has joined the mission, bringing total cataract operations to 12,000 a year. Now there are four Lifeline Express trains together.The custom-built Eye-trains has four compartments and are equipped with the latest medical equipment and eye-care technology. Each Eye-train consists of a consultation clinic, a sanitization room, two operating theatres, a recovery room with beds for patients, a multi function conference room and living quarters for medical staff. Lifeline Express not only provides free surgical operations on board the Eye-train for poverty-stricken cataract patients, but also facilitates medical practitioners from overseas and the Mainland to work together and to benefit from exchanges of expertise.
Lifeline Express draws support from corporations, foundations and private individuals in China. For capital expenditure on fitting the trains, Lifeline Express generally relies on corporate and foundation donors, raising operational costs through public fundraising activities.