Why it Matters
Right now, 36 million people worldwide — most of them in developing countries — are blind.
90 percent of them didn’t have to lose their sight. Helen Keller International is dedicated to combating the causes and consequences of vision loss and making clear vision a reality for those most vulnerable to disease and who lack access to quality eye care.
Last year alone, we helped provide many tens of millions of people with treatment to prevent diseases of poverty including blinding trachoma and river blindness. Surgeons trained by our staff also performed tens of thousands of cataract surgeries in the developing world. And in the United States, we screened the vision of nearly 66,000 students living in some of our country’s poorest neighborhoods and provided free eyeglasses to just over 16,000 of them.
Since 1994, Helen Keller International has provided free vision screenings for more than 2 million children in the United States and provided more than 300,000 of them with prescription eyeglasses to solve common vision problems.
Since 2018, Helen Keller Europe has provided vision screenings and free eyeglasses to students in poor neighborhoods near our European headquarters in France. In a routine year, as many as 40% of French children in under-served neighborhoods will be found to need eye glasses. Helen Keller Europe screens a minimum of 1,000 children in a single year and provides as many as 150 children with prescription glasses, so that they have a better chance of thriving in school and combatting the isolation and low self-esteem that often accompany children’s undetected vision problems. If you live in Europe, we would especially like to hear from you. You can learn more about France Vision Care here.
Preventing Blindness and Diabetes
We train doctors in prevention and treatment of diabetic retinopathy and help educate communities most at risk for diabetes-related vision loss in Bangladesh and Indonesia, countries which have seen an explosive increase in diabetes.
We are improving access to high-quality, affordable cataract surgeries for poor and remote communities in under-served regions of Asia. Each year we train hundreds of doctors, provide them with state-of-the-art equipment, and organize outreach services to reach those without access to eye care.
Programs for Children with Special Needs
In the spirit of our founder, Helen Keller, we are improving access to quality education for children living with blindness and other disabilities in Africa and Asia.