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20x20x20: Corrective Surgery for Blindness

Updated on January 18, 2017
This is the brochure I received in the mail. I had never head of the organization.
This is the brochure I received in the mail. I had never head of the organization. | Source

Introduction

This revised hub article takes a closer look at world blindness and how 20x20x20 fits into the effort of reducing cases of blindness in our world. This hub replaces my previous one that merely questioned the practicality of donating to this organization.

Some Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines blindness and provides an overall picture of what is happening worldwide with the following statement:

Blindness is the inability to see. The leading causes of chronic blindness include cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, corneal opacities, diabetic retinopathy, trachoma, and eye conditions in children (e.g. caused by vitamin A deficiency). Age-related blindness is increasing throughout the world, as is blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes. On the other hand, blindness caused by infection is decreasing, as a result of public health action. Three-quarters of all blindness can be prevented or treated.

According to WHO, 39 million people in the world are known to be blind. Of these, 33% (13 million as of 2006) have cataracts, which are probably operable but limitations such as age, additional eye disease, and general health are considerations. WHO also gives the statistic that 52% of the population with cataracts are over the age of 50 and that 60% of blind children die within a year or two after the onset of their condition.

The Name 20x20x20

Sensitive to problems with my own vision, I am sincerely interested in the success of 20x20x20's mission. The term 20-20-20, I have learned, means "Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds," according to 20x20x20's insert; whereas, my understanding from a former membership in the Eyesight Club recommended "covering on eye for 20 minutes while working at the computer, then switching to the other eye for 20 minutes, and, finally, working with both eyes for 20 minutes." (The Eyesight Club used this method with other recommended eye exercises and supplements.)

20x20x20's Mission

Verbatim, this organization's mission to restore 20/20 vision to 20 million blind children and adults, a figure higher than WHO's 2006 statistic. According to their website, 20x20x20 focuses on the 40 poorest countries.

Author's note (statistics inconsistency): The 20x20x20 organization uses poverty as an appeal for funds to cover their $300 surgery, yet WHO's statistics supposedly cover all members, including the United States.

Significant Comments

From the first hub, the following comments added knowledge or an interesting point of view to the operation proposed by 20x20x20:


"Unlike the US and Europe, India and other developing countries don't have roads or building which are suitable for handicapped individuals to navigate. I recommend, regardless whether you donate money to these charities or not, to travel and see first hand what makes this a difficult decision for people like me. " --Raj Kalli

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"[A] 15[-]minute cataract surgery is not impossible. Read "Infinite Vision" about how Dr. V revolutionized cataract surgery for India. Here's one of their surgeons doing it in about 3 [minutes.]" --Jon (See video below.)

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"I cannot comment on the financial aspects of this charity, but after studying the website, as a physician, I can translate. This organzation treats pediatric cataract patients by extracting their cloudy lenses and inserting an intra-ocular lens. Yes, the procedure could be done in 15 minutes and would not be expensive. Depending on the duration of the cataracts, vision would be restored, though it may not be 20/20 if cataracts were present at birth and surgery is delayed to later childhood. As my infant son's sight was saved by this procedure, I am considering donating to this organization." --pampam47

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"I am an optometrist who co-manages cataract cases with an ophthalmologist. I agree with what pampam47 stated but would like to add that in ideal cataract cases, the patients are followed up one day, one week, and one month after the surgery and are put on a variety of antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and sometimes pressure lowering drops during the first month; maybe that is where some of the expenses go beyond the surgery itself. Also, the implants used to replace the cataract have a specific power based on the length of the patient's eye--if there is a slight miscalculation, or if there is any disease of the retina discovered after the surgery--the vision may not necessarily be restored to 20/20 as seems idealized by the website. I served on an optical mission in the 3rd world and would consider donating to this charity, but would probably want to do more research first." --JK

The Surgery

CEOs, Board of Directors, and Staff

The Wonder Work website lists Brian Mullaney, co-Founder of 20/20/20, as the Co-Founder and CEO of Wonder Work. The organization essentially endorses its own program on the brochure. In addition to Mullaney, eight other members comprise the Board of Directors (last year's Advisory Board is now part of this). Ten other individuals now make the staff: chief financial officer, chief program officer, director of strategic projects, director of donor relations, creative director, marketing director, two program officers (one of India), marketing and development manager, and a donor relations associate. [Author's note: The overall Board and staff member total, in effect, has decreased by two members from last year--none with a medical degree.]

Wonder Work, Inc. is registered with the IRS and their information is as follows:

Is the organization a Private Foundation? Yes

Are donations deductible? Yes, under IRC 501(c)(3) since August 2011.

Hana Fuchs continues to function as the chief financial officer.

Changes in 20x20x20's Assets and Revenues

 
June 2013
June 2014
June 2015
Total Assets
$8,357,225
$15,445,443
$14.545,082
Total Revenues
$7,592,300
$13,586,669
$14,652,590
 
 
 
 

20x20x20 Finances

The Wonder Work, Inc. website now post links to their income tax returns for fiscal years ending June 2014 and 2015. (Links are at the bottom of the page under Credits and Resources.) These provide the potential donor with a clearer picture of the organization's efficiency.



A Touching Success Story

Conclusion

20/20/20 or Wonder Works, Inc. is a fairly new charity with an honorable idea. However, circumstances surrounding blindness of individual patients need to be considered to ensure complications do not arise after surgery. In many cases, blindness can be prevented or reversed through clean water and a nutritious diet to eliminate vitamin A deficiency in children.

Technology in modern medicine is remarkable and has its place. Undoubtedly, many, many people will benefit from this program, especially if Wonder Work, Inc. uses its assets and revenues wisely.

If you happen to be a prospective donor with an income of $100,000 a year or more and would like a legitimate tax write-off, go ahead and donate.

As for me, I will continue working to reverse my own early-stage cataracts and praying for the children of the world.***

A Survey

Have you ever had or know of someone who has had cataract surgery?

See results

Credits and Resources

http://www.who.int/topics/blindness/en/ (Definition and General Causes of Blindness)

http://20x20x20.org/what-we-do/ (Organization's Mission Statement)

http://wonderwork.org/finances/ (Income Tax Reports)

Comments

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    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 11 months ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I have attempted to update financial information by contacting Wonder Works directly via email, but received instead a detailed, not copy-able PDF file for the fiscal year 2014-2015, which the organization's representative claims is their most recent report.

      Interesting observations from the report are that the organization is only registered or licensed (or formally exempt from registering or licensing) in Washington, D.C. and 37 of our 50 states to solicit funds. Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming are those states where funds are not currently solicited.

      Wonder Works, according to their tax report, make an effort to screen groups or individuals associated with terrorist agenda and do not accept grants from them.

      Notable, too, is that $1,617,552 was paid to employees of Wonder Works in 2015. Fundraising expenses are $2,875, 177, but no professional fundraising fees were spent. Net revenue (after expenses) came to $2,358,239, an increase of $1,558,124 over the previous fiscal year 2014.

      Primary benefits of the organization go to the blindness, club foot, and burn victim missions. Percentages of how the funds were distributed are not shown on the tax report.

      In addition to their website, interested persons can follow Wonder Works on Facebook and Twitter.

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you, JK, for sharing your experience as well. Yes, it makes sense that more would have to be done for a patient than just 15 minutes of surgery. I do wish fund-raising writers for nonprofits would present a holistic representation of facts. Readers today are much more sophisticated with the information available on the internet, and we do want information, not merely an appeal to sympathy when donating.

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you, Dora, for reading and commenting.

      Fundraising promoters do not tell the prospective charitable donor about their assets, the salaries of their Board of Directors, etc. Rather, they appeal to the emotional side of the giver.

      No one wants to have anyone experience life-long blindness, as it is one of the greatest gifts to enjoy. In our imperfect world, however, blindness is a reality for many. If we really want to eliminate blindness, we have to understand the underlying causes of it. The promotional letter specifically stated that the cause was "unknown."

      The scalpel, in my opinion, is little better than a gamble in a lottery. A surgical procedure, granted, will help many people as a quick fix, but if we really want to eliminate blindness, we have to go deeper into the understanding of it. River blindness from the Tse tse fly in parts of Africa requires a different approach than what 20/20/20 under Wonder Work is promoting here.