YouTuber MrBeast helps cure blindness in 1,000 people — here's how
By Ameya Paleja,
MrBeast, the popular YouTuber, has helped 1,000 people see again by offering them free surgery. A trained surgeon completed the procedure, and the joy of those who underwent surgery knew no bounds. The entire event video was uploaded on Sunday and has so far gathered nearly 70 million views.
To clarify, the YouTuber isn't promising some radically new treatment that allows blind people to see. Instead, it is a simple 10-minute procedure used to treat cataracts and is well-tested with quantifiable benefits. Before we get into the details, here's where it can be used.
Like a camera's lens, the eye's lens is responsible for focusing the light from an object onto the retina, where images are received and then interpreted by the brain. A cataract is a condition where the lens's proteins break down, leading to vision loss.
The condition is usually seen in individuals as they age but can also affect younger people and newborns. According to the American Academy of Opthalmology, cataracts are seen in over 24.4 million people aged above 40 and affect nearly half the Americans by the time they reach the age of 75.
Left untreated, the condition leads to blindness. However, this is entirely preventable since the remedy is a simple 10-minute surgery where the damaged lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one.
If the remedy is so straightforward, then the question that really arises is how MrBeast got hold of 1,000 people for this video. Unfortunately, the answer to the question is that they do not have access to it.
Although Mr. Beast does not explain why these people did not get the surgery done in his video, the truth is that the procedure can cost an individual around $7,000 if not on insurance. For those with Medicare, only 80 percent of the costs are covered and do not include specialty lenses that might be needed to compensate for conditions like near or far-sightedness or astigmatism - a common imperfection in how the cornea of the eye is curved.
The surgeon who performed these surgeries, Dr. Jeffery Levenson, is based in Jacksonville, Florida has been running a charity to offer surgeries for free for the past 20 years. In a TEDX talk posted five years ago, Levenson said that as many as 200 million people across the globe either do not have access to or cannot afford cataract surgery.
Although Levenson had said that most of these people live in the Global South, this new video is evidence that the numbers in the U.S. are also pretty high. That a YouTuber alone could garner 1,000 people to undergo the procedure gives a glimpse of the larger picture.
On Twitter, Mr. Beast is more vocal about how this can be addressed.
Even though he may not be championing universal healthcare, Mr. Beast seems to have woken up to the reality that free markets do not solve all problems. Hope, policymakers too have this epiphany soon.
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