Standard Chartered, yesterday, said it has reached the goal it set in 2011 to raise $100 million for the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment, two years ahead of its 2020 target.

The feat was disclosed to employees, clients and charity partners at an event at the British Museum to mark 15 years of “Seeing is Believing” (SiB) initiative and the global partnership with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, to tackle avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

By funding the 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.

Meanwhile, the bank has said that with the fundraising goal achieved, SiB will continue to fund eye health projects until the end of 2020, when it will switch support to the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment through the Vision Catalyst Fund (VCF).

VCF, led by a group of private sector and philanthropic organisations, would be an ambitious plan to establish $1billion fund that will provide eye care to all people in the commonwealth and around the world.

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.

Group General Counsel and Chairman, SIB, David Fein, 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 a key health issue across the bank’s footprint, as globally, there are an estimated 36 million blind people and a further 217 million people suffering from moderate or severe visual impairment, while 80 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.

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.”