World Sight Day festivities go online, free of charge this year

Funds raised from donations and silent auction to benefit Combat Blindness International
World Sight Day is on October 8
Photo courtesy of Combat Blindness International
In 2019 alone, CBI provided over 16,000 cataract surgeries.

Combat Blindness International, a Madison-based nonprofit committed to ending preventable blindness across the world, is holding its annual World Sight Day event online this year free of charge. Guest speakers and a silent auction are this year’s highlights, and the folks at CBI are thrilled to connect with donors and attendees in the adapted virtual format.

“World Sight Day traditionally is a sort of family reunion, allowing us to connect face-to-face with old friends and supporters and meet new ones,” says Bill Shepard, CBI’s marketing and communications manager. “By connecting with our growing family of supporters at our World Sight Day events, we strive to raise awareness about preventable blindness worldwide, along with CBI’s impact in giving the gift of sight to those in need.”

Available on the CBI website Oct. 1-9, folks will be able to pop online to shop the collection of art, jewelry, resort stays and full-blown experiences. YouTube star Lucy Edwards, along with duo ‘Two Blind Brothers” also will speak on Thursday during the main-stage World Sight Day event.

Both Shepard and CBI’s president and executive director, Reena Chandra Rajpal, hope that this platform will be able to reach a larger audience than usual — the silver lining of forcing large-scale events online amid the coronavirus, perhaps.

Preventable blindness is much more widespread than we in the United States typically fathom, and CBI’s partners have been working to adapt accordingly to COVID-19 concerns to keep providing services to those who need them.

According to Rajpal, there are 36 million people in the world who are blind and 90% of these people live in low income countries. She also said that 80% of this blindness is preventable through cataract surgeries and pediatric intervention — and that’s where CBI steps in. By specifically targeting these communities, CBI and partners are establishing improved eye care for folks of all walks of life in underserved regions.

As part of this, CBI not only provides funding for these surgeries and eye care, but also is actively working to build up communities’ ophthalmic infrastructure. Specifically, the Certified Ophthalmic Paramedic Program has even given more than 500 women in India the financial support to get trained as vision screeners, surgical assistants, record keepers, nurses and the like.

In 2019 alone, CBI provided more than 16,000 cataract surgeries — literally restoring someone’s sight overnight, and only costing $25 a surgery.

“Think about that … for a week’s worth of fancy lattes, you can give kids the opportunity to go back to school and thrive, empower parents to provide for their families and contribute to their communities, and give grandparents the beautiful ability to see their grandchildren again,” Shepard says. “Through your compassion, you’re taking a firm stand in favor of global eye health equity for the disenfranchised, which empowers [them] to pursue their goals and dreams.”