20x20x20: Corrective Surgery for Blindness
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, 36 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.)
Author's Note: The Eyesight Club is no longer available as of 12-1-2018. However, it was a division of the Cambridge Institute for Better Vision.
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.
From my first article, 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
"[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.)
"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
"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 Wonder Work Team
Wonder Work's 20/20/20 original co-founder was Brian Mullaney, who is no longer listed as part of the Wonder Work team. The organization had also endorsed its own program on the original brochure.
As of 2017, the Board of Directors has six members, just as does the staff. This is an overall reduction of eight members since 2014. The focus seems to be primarily on finance and marketing, with no medical doctors or ophthalmologists as part of the team.
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
A Touching Success Story
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.