Day 99 – Restoring Eyesight to the Blind

The Life You Can Save, founded by Peter Singer, provides a curated list of several dozen evidence-based charities. The organization hopes to inspire and maximize charitable contributions while recommending where they will make the most difference. You can read more about their admirable mission in our post Day 81 – Amping Up Your Charitable Giving.

Three of the organizations they highlight work to prevent blindness & restore sight. The bad news: At least two billion people around the world are blind or visually impaired. The good news: Over one billion of those cases of blindness are either treatable or preventable. Nearly 90% live in the developing world.

Blindness and visual impairment are often caused by (or exacerbated by) a combination of malnutrition, poor water quality, lack of sanitation, and inadequate healthcare and health education. These forces conspire to spread diseases which damage vision and impede access to treatment.

Blindness can be deadly. A high proportion of blind children die within a few years of losing sight, either from the underlying disease or due to the inability of their impoverished families to care for them.

There are three charities featured:

Fred Hollows Foundation is an international development organization focusing on blindness prevention in Indigenous Australian communities and around the world. They train surgeons and eye health workers, provide equipment, fund research, and support advocacy in eye health.

The Foundation provides eye care for some of the poorest countries in the world, performing cataract surgeries for as little as US$50. In 2018 alone, The Fred Hollows Foundation performed 929,106 eye operations and treatments, and treated nearly 24.8 million people with antibiotics for trachoma. Donate

The Helen Keller International (HKI) Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS) Program provides critical nutrition to children around the world at-risk for vitamin A deficiency (VAD) — a condition that can lead to blindness and death.  According to WHO, almost 50% of children in Africa and South Asia are vitamin A deficient — that’s nearly 180 million children. An estimated 100,000 children die each year from VAD-related causes.

VAS is considered by the World Bank to be one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives. Each supplement costs about US$1.23 to distribute. Treating vitamin A deficiency in children ages six months to five years reduces all-cause mortality for that age group by 23%, measles mortality by 50%, and diarrheal disease mortality by 33%. Donate

Seva is a global nonprofit eye care organization. Their mission is to transform lives and strengthen communities by restoring sight and preventing blindness. Seva works with underserved communities in more than 26 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Seva establishes vision centers in remote areas, and supports mobile teams of doctors and staff to provide education, screening, and surgeries to those unable to travel to established medical facilities. In 2018-2019 alone, Seva provided sight-saving surgeries to over 146,000 people, glasses to over 84,000 people, clinical training for 302 people, and health training for 1,882 community volunteers. Donate

St. John Chapter 9 records a miracle in which Jesus gives sight to a man who was born blind. What a miracle it is that you and I can help prevent blindness for a child overseas for less than the cost of a cup of coffee at our local Starbucks.