Frequently Asked Questions

Operation Eyesight an international development organization working to prevent blindness and restore sight. Founded in 1963 in Calgary, Canada, we have been recognized as a key player working towards the elimination of avoidable blindness. With support from generous donors, we collaborate with our hospital and government partners in low- and middle-income countries to invest in sustainable eye health treatment, blindness prevention and community development. We currently have programs in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia and Zambia, and we are looking to expand to other countries in the future. To learn more, visit operationeyesight.com.

Yes. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to create a more fair, just and equitable world ensuring no one is left behind. In 2015, all member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda is comprised of 17 SDGs that provide a shared blueprint for a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for all. While all of the goals are interconnected, we focus on five goals that are core to our mission to prevent blindness and restore sight. We are working to end poverty (SDG #1), promote good health and well-being (SDG #3), increase gender equality and women’s empowerment (SDG#5), provide access to clean water (SDG #6), and create meaningful, lasting partnerships to collectively achieve these goals (SDG #17). To learn more, visit: operationeyesight.com/sustainable-development-goals

Operation Eyesight is currently working to eliminate avoidable blindness in eight countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan African:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Zambia

We are always evaluating opportunities to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. We follow a rigorous process for selecting regions in which to work, which includes a need to fit into existing health care systems. When we identify an opportunity, we partner with the local ministry of health, analyze the local needs, situation and gaps in health, and secure a major source of funding and other support. At this time, we are exploring opportunities in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Malawi, the Maldives and Zimbabwe, as these are all regions the World Health Organization have indicated would benefit from working with local partners to integrate eye health services into the health systems of those countries.

Since 1963, Operation Eyesight has prevented blindness and restored sight for millions of people. In 2020 alone:

  • 147,031 eye surgeries were performed by our partner hospitals
  • 1,411,994 people were screened for eye conditions
  • 202,631 pairs of custom prescription eyeglasses were dispensed
  • 57 ophthalmic personnel were trained to provide eye health care
  • 145 boreholes were drilled or rehabilitated

While these numbers demonstrate the success of our programs, it is through the stories of the people we help where you can see the full impact of our work. When children can see, they can get an education and someday find employment. When adults can see, they can earn a living and care for their families. When grandparents have their vision restored, they can play with their grandchildren and participate in their communities. When communities have the education and tools needed to take care of their health needs, they become healthier and more resilient. You can read impact stories like these on our blog at operationeyesight.com/blog

For three consecutive years, we have been named a Top 10 Impact Charity by Charity Intelligence Canada, recognizing the level of impact created by every dollar donated to Operation Eyesight. We encourage you to read our latest annual report.

Our ultimate objective is to work ourselves out of business. By providing training to community health workers, hospital staff and ophthalmic workers, our goal is that the regions where we work will reach a point where they no longer need external assistance. Our vision centres are designed to become financially self-sustaining within one year of opening. Our community eye health programs are designed to eliminate avoidable blindness on a sustainable basis. We also work with all levels of government to advocate for eye health to be integrated into national health coverage plans, thus eliminating the need for our support.

Operation Eyesight has charitable status in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Kenya and India. Since 2015, we have raised an average of $4 million to just under $6 million per year. We plan to increase this so we can help more people.

Revenue is raised from:

  • Individuals
  • Community organizations (clubs, church groups, etc.)
  • Companies
  • Foundations
  • Governments
  • Estate gifts

To see our revenue and expenses for the last fiscal year,  view our Investing in our Vision document.

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 vision problems by helping our partner hospitals in South Asia and Africa set up their own optical shops so that each patient gets their exact prescription. We also establish vision centres at strategic locations within the community. These vision centres are linked to the hospital and provide services such as eye exams and the dispensing of eyeglasses. Vision centres and optical shops help contribute to the long-term financial sustainability of our partners’ facilities by generating revenue. To learn more about our approach to eyeglasses, read this blog post.

If you would like to provide eyeglasses to someone in need, we encourage you to donate to our programs. Although the cost does vary from country to country, you can provide a pair of eyeglasses for approximately $20. 

Yes, global blindness is a major health issue. Today, at least 1.1 billion people live with vision loss and 90 percent of vision loss is preventable or treatable. The number of people with vision loss will rise to 1.7 billion by 2050 if we don’t act now. Blindness is not just a health issue. The World Report on Vision recognizes the important contribution of eye health to the Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the close links between eye health and sustainable development.

Consider these facts:

  • 671 million people have uncorrected refractive errors
  • 100 million people have cataract
  • 8.1 million people have vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration
  • 7.8 million people have vision loss due to glaucoma
  • 4.4 million people have vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy
  • 90 percent of those suffering from vision loss live in low- and middle-income countries
  • 73 percent are aged over 50 years old
  • 55 percent are women and girls

To learn more, visit https://operationeyesight.com/avoidable-blindness/Source: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’ Vision Atlas – 2021

  • Cataract is the most common form of blindness in the world. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens is located near the front of the eye and it focuses on the retina, at the back of the eye, to form the image we see. A cataract may affect just a small part of the lens, or it may cloud the entire lens. Although not preventable, cataracts are treatable with a straightforward and inexpensive surgical procedure.
  • Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. Caused by bacterial infection, trachoma spreads easily through contact with eye discharge from infected people on hands, towels and clothing, and also through direct transmission by flies. Children are especially susceptible to trachoma, and infection often begins during infancy and can become chronic. Left untreated, the eyelid eventually turns inward, causing the eyelashes to rub the eyeball, resulting in intense pain and scarring of the cornea. This ultimately leads to irreversible blindness, typically between 30 and 40 years of age.
  • Uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment. The four most common refractive errors myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision resulting from an irregularly curved cornea) and presbyopia (difficulty in reading or seeing at arm’s length). Refractive errors can be easily corrected. A simple eye examination and a pair of prescription eyeglasses can transform a person’s life. Refractive errors can also be treated with contact lenses or refractive surgery such as laser surgery.

To learn more, visit https://operationeyesight.com/avoidable-blindness/

Thank you for your interest in our organization. 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 eye doctor.

We appreciate your support! The most important thing you can do to help is to donate. Your generosity allows us to establish sustainable eye health care in the countries where we work. Please consider becoming a monthly donor, so you can help transform lives month after month. To learn about the many ways you can support Operation Eyesight financially, visit operationeyesight.com/how-you-can-help

Also, please tell your friends and family about avoidable blindness and about Operation Eyesight. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn and share our posts to help raise awareness of our work.

Yes, you can make a donation in someone else’s name. When filling out the donation form online, you can specify the name of this person in the “In honour/memory of” field. We also have a variety of eCards that you can choose from. You can send the recipient an eCard immediately or select a future date for delivery. You can also add a customized message. Our eCards make a great gift for birthdays, Christmas and other holidays. Visit https://operationeyesight.com/ecards to send your gift today.

We’re happy to help! Please contact us.

Yes, all of the donor information we collect is kept in our secure database. We do not sell, trade or share our mailing lists. In addition, we do not retain credit card information.

If you’ve donated online, your tax receipt should arrive in your email inbox within 24 hours. If it doesn’t, please fill in our Tax Receipt Request Form or contact us. If you donated by mail or over the phone, please allow several weeks for your tax receipt to arrive. If you are a monthly donor, your consolidated tax receipt will arrive at the end of the tax year. Thank you for your generous donation!

We believe that the community is the foundation of eye health. In order to eliminate avoidable blindness, education and connection must occur along with treatment. We employ a model in which all of our hospital partners are connected to the community through outreach clinics, vision centres, education programs and relationships with local leaders and organizations. Our model takes an inclusive, innovative approach to eye health care and was endorsed by Vision 2020 India. To learn more about our approach, visit our website here.

Sustainability refers to the ability of the programs we implement to continuously operate their own facilities and activities without external support. We accomplish this by helping our partners introduce cost-recovery mechanisms (such as vision centres and the selling of eyeglasses) that allow them to generate revenue. We also provide ophthalmic training to address shortages of local eye health professionals, and generate ongoing demand for eye care services through community outreach and education. By doing this, we’re creating long term solutions rather than providing short-term aid.