Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does Operation Eyesight do?
Q: Is blindness a big problem?
Q: What is the main cause of blindness in the world?
Q: As a fundraising organization, how does Operation Eyesight acquire and spend the money it collects?
Q: Does Operation Eyesight collect used eyeglasses?
Q: I'd like to visit one of the programs you support in India or Africa. Is that possible?
Q: I'm interested in volunteering overseas. Do you accept volunteers?
Q: I am a Canadian doctor interested in overseas opportunities. Do you accept medical volunteers?
Q: I'm having trouble with my eyes. Can you help me?
A: Operation Eyesight is an international development organization focused on the elimination of avoidable blindness. To that end we gather resources and invest them in eye care and community development programs in India and four countries in Africa, working closely with local experts. We also work to encourage vision health and blindness prevention in the developing world, while also mobilizing support in Canada and other countries.
A: Yes, global blindness is a major health issue. Among the very young, the very poor and the aged, visual impairment can lead to death. And the problem is growing. Every five seconds, one person in the world goes blind. A child goes blind every minute. Yet for three out of four of these people, blindness was completely preventable. Consider these facts:
- About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision.
- 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented, treated or cured.
- About 90 percent of the world's visually impaired people live in developing countries.
A: Cataract accounts for one half of the world’s blindness. In some areas, the second biggest cause is failed cataract surgeries due to poor medical procedures and low expectations for surgical outcomes. This is why Operation Eyesight is committed to high-quality, sustainable eye care. The leading cause of infectious blindness is trachoma, a disease that still threatens millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Other major blinding conditions include glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. To learn more, see Causes of blindness and low vision.
A: Our revenue in 2010 was approximately $10 million. Revenue is raised from:
- community organizations (clubs, church groups, etc.)
Of this, about 78 percent goes directly to program support in India and Africa, and 22 percent is spent on administration and fundraising, which is well within the typical range for international development organizations. To learn more, read this article.
A: We commend you for your plans to travel to the countries where we work, and for your desire to better understand the issues facing people in the developing world. Over the years, many people have expressed an interest in visiting specific program partners. At this time, we are not equipped to provide tours or travel information. Nor do we encourage personal visits out of respect for patient privacy and our concern that interacting with visitors can be a drain on the limited resources available to our medical partners and so interfere with their clinical priorities. Thank you for your understanding in this matter – we hope we can count on your support.
A: No, in 2003 we ended our eyeglass collection program when India (where most of our work occurs) stopped accepting used eyewear. However, we continue to address low vision by helping our partner hospitals in India and Africa set up their own optical shops so that each patient gets their exact prescription. These optical shops help contribute to the long-term financial sustainability of the hospitals by generating revenue. Instead of donating used eyeglasses, please consider purchasing brand new eyeglasses – for only $20 you can provide new glasses for three children! See the Gift Guide section of our website. To learn more about our approach to eyeglasses, refer to the blog posts by Pat Ferguson, president and CEO of Operation Eyesight, on May 20 and June 3, 2011.
A: Operation Eyesight is a development organization that is strictly focused on long-term, local solutions involving indigenous expertise. Therefore, we are not equipped to facilitate volunteer or professional opportunities for people outside the countries where we work. However, we commend you for your desire to support the people of the developing world, and we wish you success in your search for volunteer opportunities.
A: We are occasionally approached by physicians from Canada and other countries interested in international opportunities. Because of our focus on building local professional capacity in the countries where we work, we do not engage Canadian ophthalmologists to undertake surgeries, although we occasionally have volunteer opportunities for training in subspecialties. However, we encourage Canadian physicians to learn about our work and to recommend Operation Eyesight to others concerned about blindness and low vision. We hope we can count on your support in this way.
A: Operation Eyesight works closely with physicians and medical experts around the world, but we do not have medical professionals on staff. Therefore, we cannot advise or comment on medical issues. However, healthy vision is extremely important, so we urge you to consult with a local practicing physician.