Founded by Sir John Wilson, the Sightsavers charity has been in operation since 1950, and since then, the organization has helped provide eye care to a great number of people in poor or developing countries. The goal of the foundation is to try to prevent blindness in those who cannot afford to pay for such things like eye exams and operations that may be needed in order to keep an infection from spreading. Through the public’s generous donations, Sightsavers has been able to provide visually impaired people with these preventive services. So far, about 6.1 million cataract surgeries have been performed due to donors’ contributions.
Headquartered in the UK, the international organization also has branches in several other countries including, Norway, Sweden, India, Italy, Ireland the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. The charity is also present in 30 countries in Africa and Asia, and not only is it focused on preventing and treating diseases and conditions of the eye, but it also advocates for people with other disabilities. Over 180,000 disabled people have been assisted through Sightsavers donations, and this help has allowed them to live fuller and more independent lives.
Initially called the British Empire Society for the Blind, and later the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, the organization has been very successful in meeting a lot of its goals over the years. In 2016, Sightsavers was listed as one of the top charities of the year by the evaluating group called GiveWell. The health focused charity, whose founder is himself visually impaired, has also helped patients get operations for a potentially blinding infection called trachoma onchocerciasis, which is also called river blindness. This particular infection was discovered to be a major cause of visual impairment in West Africa.
Sightsavers opened up its first eye clinics in the African country of Nigeria, and its first mobile eye units were in Kenya and Uganda. The organization has brought a lot of hope and better health to many people all around the world, and in 2017, it celebrated its one billionth treatment for NTD, short for Neglected Tropical Diseases.