Doug Jackson, CEO, CharityVision on celebrating 30 years of giving sight back to the blind…
30 years ago, CharityVision began in the Philippines. Our mission was (and still is) to place the local doctor at the center of the world’s medical crisis. We found qualified local doctors with the desire to help their neighbors and countrymen, and then we provided what they needed to accomplish that goal. To keep it manageable, we specifically looked for life-changing surgeries that were safe, inexpensive, and could be completed in one trip to the operating room.
From our doctors we demand sacrifice, occasional community screenings, and accountability. In exchange, we help them create a state-of-the-art clinic of their own. As their new partner, we are committed to both their financial and professional success (especially as we try to locate them in areas that are otherwise underserved). It seems like a natural solution– everyone wins!
After a few years, we noticed that most of our surgeries were cataracts. We found that providing sight to the blind was definitely life-changing and one of the most prolific serious medical conditions in the world. It was an easy decision to change our focus to strictly ophthalmic conditions – including prescription glasses.
It is not always easy to deal with governments, importation, and sometimes vastly different cultural norms, but the blessings of this work are incomparable! Watching a mother see her child for the first time, allowing a granddaughter/caretaker the freedom to go to school, or facilitating a father the ability to once again provide for his family is worth all of the effort. Restoring sight is amazing!
Investing in the Locals
Simply put, the model of encouraging and facilitating the local professional works. Every year, we average around 70,000 surgeries, examine over 200,000 school children, and provide tens of thousands of prescription glasses. We have partnered in over 30 countries and, on average, keep our costs per surgery at $25. Our overhead hovers around 5%. As an added bonus, some of the partners we initially sponsored have grown into the largest eye programs in their respective countries. Most importantly, however, our partners are all dedicated, well equipped, and properly trained doctors who are permanent members of their community. Local doctors committed to helping the poor are the solution.
We feel fortunate to be a part of this amazing work. Over the course of 30 years, the landscape of ophthalmology has dramatically changed. We have been blessed with trusted advisors, dedicated donors, and a team that is willing to adapt with technology. Our philosophy of “ready”, “fire”, and then “aim” may seem a bit chaotic to some, but we trust our partners to keep us in line, and quite simply, this work is so critical and timely that we feel some learning while on the go is acceptable. We know we are just one piece of the overall solution, and for that reason we are excited to be part of the larger IAPB community. We share the dream of providing easier access to qualified ophthalmic care in every corner of the world.
To celebrate our 30 year anniversary, here are just a few highlights:
1989: Performed first operation with local doctors in the Philippines
1999: Reached goal of 5,000 surgeries per year performed worldwide in 7 countries
2010: Lowered cost per surgery to $25 (started at $122!)
2013: Increased reach to 30,000 surgeries per year performed worldwide in 25 countries
2015: Established a legal presence with local staff and office in 8 countries
2015: Developed our own customized cataract supply pack which contains enough for 100 surgeries
2015: Held our first Fight Night with Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield, raising enough to cover 40,000 surgeries
2018: Increased reach to 70,000 surgeries per year performed worldwide in 25 countries
2019: 610,000 surgeries performed and 5,700,000 patients screened since 1989
2019: Reached goal of 7 sustainable eye clinics worldwide