October 8, 2015 – Happy World Sight Day 2015 to you all.
As fall arrives I am reminded of a trip I took some years ago to a conference
at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The hotel was magnificent and surrounding hills were ablaze in the most beautiful display of fall colors I have ever seen. I can see it in my mind’s eye today just as vividly as I did some 20 years ago. I’m always exceptionally thankful for my ability to see. It’s difficult to imagine a life in which one is unable to take in the beauty of the seasons. For this reason, I remember how much work we have yet to do before we can say that no one is needlessly blind.
Today, SEE International joins the global health community to observe World Sight Day 2015, to raise awareness about avoidable blindness. Designated by the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), World Sight Day “is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 285 million people worldwide suffering from visual impairment. That’s almost equivalent the entire population of the United States. Yet the WHO also says that 80% of them do not have to lose their sight. A full 228 million of people do not have to be permanently deprived of seeing the stunning beauty of this world with their own eyes. For this reason, this year’s World Sight Day’s call to action is, “Eye Care for All.” That is precisely what SEE International aims to provide. Our amazing volunteer SEE Docs have completed over 8,000 sight-restoring surgeries worldwide so far this year, with many more to come. By the end of 2015, we expect to beat last year’s total of 12,755.
How You Can Help
So how can you celebrate World Sight Day 2015, and contribute to the cause of eliminating avoidable blindness worldwide?
Make a Matching Gift to Double Your Impact
In honor of the occasion, we hope you will join our World Sight Day Challenge! All donations received in October, up to $15,000, will be matched one-to-one by SEE’s Board of Directors.
Help Us Recognize our Volunteers
Also to commemorate the day, we are giving two of our long-serving volunteer ophthalmologists “Humanitarian of the Year” awards. SEE is proud to honor David Michael Colvard, M.D., FACS, of Encino, CA, and Diego Mejia, M.D., of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who have done so much to help our organization in its campaign to end avoidable blindness worldwide.
David Michael Colvard, M.D., FACS
Mike Colvard, of Encino, CA, has volunteered with SEE since 1997. Dr. Colvard has been on a total of eighteen humanitarian expeditions to Namibia. He has restored sight to approximately 5,000 men, women, and children, completely free of charge. His sense of altruism has motivated him since childhood. “As a young boy, I remember reading about Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Dr. Thomas Dooley,” Colvard recounts. “[I was] captivated by the idea of working as a physician in areas of the world where resources were meager and the need for medical care was greatest. I decided very early in life that I wanted to be a part of this mission.”
He frequently collaborates with fellow SEE Doc and 2015 United Nations Mandela Prize laureate Helena Ndume, M.D.
Diego Mejia, M.D.
Dr. Mejia, of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, plays an integral role in training ophthalmologists from around the globe to perform eye surgeries in the developing world. Every year since 2005, he has hosted a clinic where he teaches volunteer doctors how to perform MSICS. MSICS is a safe, quick, effective method of cataract removal most often used in the field, that does not require state-of-the-art technology. The training Dr. Mejia provides ensures that SEE volunteers can provide high quality care in remote settings all around the world.
Please join us in congratulating these two excellent examples of SEE volunteers. Have a happy World Sight Day 2015, and make sure you take a moment to take in the beauty of the world around you.
– Randal Avolio, President & CEO