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Impact Rating

Sightsavers Inc.

Top Health Nonprofit

Impact: $50 cures one person of blindness.

Eye Health in Indian Sunderbans meets the benchmark for high cost-effectiveness. The nonprofit averts a disability-adjusted life year for less than the country's G.D.P. per capita.

Note: The impact of this program may not be representative of the entire operation of Sightsavers Inc..


Governance: Passes checks


We treat and prevent eye conditions such as cataracts, trachoma and refractive error. We help to fight five debilitating diseases that affect more than a billion people around the world. We campaign for disability rights so people with disabilities can participate equally in society.



Rated Program

Eye Health in Indian Sunderbans

Program Geography



Boston, MA

Donations processed by the nonprofit.



Rated Program

Eye Health in Indian Sunderbans

Program Geography



Boston, MA

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Rated Program


Eye Health in Indian Sunderbans


The program provided sight restoring surgery to almost 32,000 people and glasses to over 50,000 school children and adults living in the remote forested islands of the Sundarbans. Seventeen financially self-sustaining vision centers were established.

Program Type

General Eye Health

Beneficiaries Served

People living in poverty
People with disabilities



Outcomes: Changes in people's lives. They can be caused by a nonprofit.

Costs: The money spent by nonprofits and their partners and beneficiaries.

Impact: The cost to achieve an outcome.

Cost-effectiveness: A judgment as to whether the cost was "worth" the outcome.


Outcome Metric

A person cured of blindness.

To calculate impact, we estimate how many outcomes the nonprofit caused.

Data Source

Outcome data collected through independent researchers, who used two-stage cluster random sampling in a before-and-after survey of adults over 40 years in the program area, measuring the prevalence of blindness in both eyes (defined as presenting visual acuity <3/60 in the better eye).

Time Period of Data

Sept. 1, 2013, to Aug. 31, 2018

Ratings are based on data the nonprofit itself collects on its work. We use the most recent year with sufficient data. Typically, this data allows us to calculate direct changes in participants' lives, such as increased income.

Method for Attributing Outcomes

In neighboring Satkhira District (Bangladesh), also home to a part of the Sunderbans, the prevalence of blindness has in fact risen slightly. It is assumed that had Sightsavers not intervened, blindness in the program area would have risen similarly.

To determine causation, we take the outcomes we observe and subtract an estimate of the outcomes that would have happened even without the program.


Data Source

Cost data reported by Sightsavers Inc. and data and assumptions about partner and beneficiary costs.

All monetary costs are counted, whether they are borne by a nonprofit service deliverer or by the nonprofit’s public and private partners.


Impact Statement

$50 cures one person of blindness.

We calculate impact, defined as the change in outcomes attributable to a program divided by the cost to achieve those outcomes.


Benchmark for Rating

Impact ratings of eye health programs are based on the cost of a disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted relative to the G.D.P. per capita of the country in which the program operates. Programs receive 5 stars if they avert a DALY for less than than the G.D.P. per capita, and 4 stars if they avert a DALY for less than three times G.D.P. per capita. If a nonprofit reports impact but doesn't meet the benchmark for cost-effectiveness, it earns 3 stars.


The nonprofit averts a disability-adjusted life year for less than the country's G.D.P. per capita.

Why We Could Be Wrong

We welcome your suggestions for improving our methodology. Our methodology section includes explanations of how we mitigate these issues.

  • The outcome could oversimplify total impact. Using “people cured of blindness” as the metric of analysis does not capture the level of health and wellbeing restored.
  • There could be multiple important outcomes not captured in our analysis.
  • Sightsavers Inc. may be spending additional money in order to serve harder-to-reach and/or particularly valuable populations.
  • In the absence of better data, we assume uniform counterfactual rates for programs, at the risk of masking variation across nonprofits.
  • Our estimates rely on data made public by Sightsavers Inc. on its website, annual reports, financial statements and Form 990s.
  • We only analyze programs that meet our criteria. As a result, this report may not fully reflect the impact of Sightsavers Inc..
  • We do not assess what explains the nonprofit's cost-effectiveness.

We assign a rating to the nonprofit using the rubric:

  • There are indications of governance or financial health issues at the nonprofit.

  • After being given an opportunity, the nonprofit chose not to publish impact information.

    We are not yet issuing this level of star rating.

  • The rated program does not meet our benchmark for cost-effectiveness.

  • The rated program is cost-effective.

  • The rated program is highly cost-effective.

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Nonprofit Comment

We are thrilled to bring attention to how impactful, cost effective and tangible sight-restoring interventions are. This program has halved the cases of blindness over a five year period, as well as built local capacity to deliver eye health services and helped establish a sustainable eye health system that can function without our support. When new data from the World Health Organization shows at least one billion people worldwide have sight loss that could be have been treated or prevented or is still to be addressed, this type of program model can make an impact on the biggest global health crisis you’ve never heard of.

— Sightsavers Inc.

Before publishing, we ask every nonprofit we can to review our work, offer corrections and provide a comment.

Analysis Details

Analysis conducted by ImpactMatters and published on November 22, 2019.

This rating is based on data reported by Sightsavers Inc. using ImpactMatters' impact reporting platform. Using data from the platform, ImpactMatters analysts calculated impact and assigned a rating.

We welcome corrections. If you are interested in exploring applications of ImpactMatters data, contact us at

Governance Check

Sightsavers Inc. passes our governance check.

Conducted a financial audit

Overhead spending is reasonable (<35% of total spending)

Charity Navigator has not issued a fraud or mismanagement advisory

Sightsavers Inc. itself has not reported any material diversions of assets

Sightsavers Inc. itself has not reported any excess benefit transactions

Source: Sightsavers Inc. Form 990 and Charity Navigator

How We Calculate Impact

This rating is based on ImpactMatters analysis of the impact of Eye Health in Indian Sunderbans relative to costs. Impact is the change in the social outcomes of people served by the program, net of the change that would have happened even without the program (the “counterfactual”); divided by cost. Learn more.

For Donors

A guide to our process for analyzing nonprofits and assigning ratings.

For Nonprofits

Learn about best practices for reporting impact for different program types.

For Researchers

Our collected guidelines on how we analyze impact of nonprofit programs.

Rating is a complex exercise and we urge you to read our frequently asked questions for details of how and why we issue these ratings.