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Giving the Gift of Sight

Five Ways To Make A Difference

photo-1414775838024-666765beb5d9If you’re reading this sentence without squinting, you are one of about 96% of people in the world able to do so. But what about the 4% who aren’t?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly 285 million people around the world are visually impaired, 39 million of which are completely blind. That’s a lot of people who can’t drive a car, catch a baseball or read their favorite book on the front porch. What’s worse: WHO estimates that about 80% of visual impairment cases are preventable or curable. That’s 228 million people whose lives could be drastically different if they had access to the proper medical attention and eye care.

If so many cases of impaired vision are preventable, then why isn’t someone doing something about it? Luckily, they are. If you or someone you know wants to give the gift of sight to someone in need, here are five great organizations to help you get started.

  1. Optometry Giving Sight

Located in Golden, Colorado, Optometry Giving Sight is “the only global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error – simply the need for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.” One donation to Optometry Giving Sight goes toward work around the globe to train new eye care professionals, establish vision centers and deliver low cost eye care and pairs of glasses to those in need.

  1. New Eyes for the Needy

Founded in 1932, New Eyes for the Needy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that purchases new glasses for residents of the U.S. and collects used glasses to distribute to those in developing countries lacking the means to buy their own. New Eyes is operated almost exclusively by volunteers and every donation goes toward the purchase of a new pair of glasses. You can watch actor Jake Gyllenhaal endorse New Eyes here.

  1. Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is a revolutionary iPhone app that utilizes the wonders of 21st century technology to help those in need. It works when someone with impaired vision opens up the Be My Eyes app on their phone for help with any type of every day task (it could be reading an expiration date or even navigating a new environment). The app then sends a notification to a volunteer and establishes a video connection where the  question at hand can easily be answered. “It’s my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world,” says Hans Jørgen Wiberf, founder of Be My Eyes. You can donate to their mission here.

  1. The American Foundation for the Blind

Founded in 1921, the American Foundation for the Blind is approaching a century of work ensuring that those with blindness or vision impairment have access to the information, technology, education and legal resources that they need to flourish in life. From the very beginning, AFB has dedicated itself to giving a voice to those without sight. Helen Keller herself was a strong advocate for the foundation for over forty years.

  1. Blindskills, Inc.

Blindskills is a unique and valuable resource where those with blindness or visual impairment can seek advice from experts and others with similar conditions free of charge. The organization provides a community of support, encouragement and practical education to help overcome the difficulties of life with impaired vision. You can learn more about Blindskills and how to support their mission here.