Standard Chartered financial services company has announced it has reached the goal it set in 2011 to raise$US100 million for the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

The goal has been reached two years ahead of the bank’s 2020 target date.

The news was shared with employees, clients and charity partners on 25 September at an event at the British Museum to mark 15 years of ‘Seeing is Believing’ (SiB), Standard Chartered’s global partnership with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to tackle avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

Access to health services for people in low-and middle-income countries

By funding projects run by international eye health organisations, SiB provides access to affordable and quality eye health services to people in low- and middle-income countries.

The money raised through SiB has reached more than 167 million people through medical interventions, eye examinations, and eye health education and training. The initiative has funded 184 eye health projects in 37 countries, supported 4.4 million sight-restoring surgeries and trained more than 318,000 health workers.

Mr David Fein, group general counsel and chairman of Seeing is Believing said: “Seeing is Believing has changed the lives of millions of individuals and families by providing eye health services that enable many to return to education and work. As a result, this has boosted local economies and strengthened communities.”

Avoidable blindness is key issue globally

Avoidable blindness is a key health issue across Standard Chartered’s footprint. Globally, there are an estimated 36 million blind people and a further 217 million people live with moderate or severe visual impairment. Yet over 75 per cent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.

Initially launched in 2003 to fund 28,000 sight-restoring surgeries, SiB has evolved into a leading multi-stakeholder partnership that is supporting comprehensive eye care solutions, strengthening eye health systems and fostering the development of new technologies across 37 countries. In 2011, the Bank committed to raise $US100 million for Seeing is Believing between 2003 and 2020.

With the fundraising goal achieved, SiB will continue to fund eye health projects up until the end of 2020. After that, Standard Chartered will support the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment through the Vision Catalyst Fund (VCF).

Led by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the VCF is an ambitious plan to establish a USD1 billion fund that will provide eye care to all people in the Commonwealth and around the world.

David Fein says: “We are excited about the opportunity to support the development of the Vision Catalyst Fund as it has the potential to mobilise significantly more funding for the eye health sector globally.

“Working together with new and existing eye health partners and drawing on our experience from SiB, we look forward to being part of this ambitious next chapter in the fight against avoidable blindness.”