MrBeast Cured 1,000 People's Blindness Because Society Is Broken Favorite 



Jan 28 2023


The United States

In a video uploaded on Sunday, YouTuber MrBeast announced that he was going to help “1000 blind people see for the first time” by sponsoring their cataract surgeries. “It’s gonna be crazy,” MrBeast says, in front of an audience of applauding patients. Throughout the video, MrBeast—real name Jimmy Donaldson—talks to people about their blurred eyesight before their surgery. After they emerge from the 10-minute surgery, joyful at their newfound sight, he dishes out lucrative prizes, like $50,000 or gifting a brand new Tesla.

The heartwarming video drew immediate attention, not least because the premise of a life-improving surgery being directly gifted by a wealthy YouTuber in an inspirational viral video seems slightly dystopian. MrBeast has said he spends $8 million a month on his videos and by his estimate, his business’ valuation is $1.5 billion.

“I watch this video and I’m filled with rage that we shut off access to a 10-minute procedure because we paywalled it and decided that only some people can get it,” leftist streamer Hasan Piker said of MrBeast’s video. “It’s so insanely frustrating that it’s up to one YouTube guy to decide to make content out of it, that people who are too poor just can’t fucking see.”

Piker’s point wasn’t lost on MrBeast. Nowhere in the video does MrBeast mention that the inability for someone without means to get cataract surgery in the US is the result of failing healthcare policy or the insurance industry, rather than a lack of access to MrBeast. However, he did point out that the surgeries should just be free on his Twitter account, and wondered why the government doesn’t step in to help.

“I don’t understand why curable blindness is a thing. Why don’t governments step in and help?” MrBeast tweeted. “Even if you’re thinking purely from a financial standpoint it’s hard to see how they don’t roi [return on investment] on taxes from people being able to work again.”

This is, of course, true for every disabling illness, which caused some to be amused at MrBeast’s gradual epiphany that we should have universal healthcare.

Cataracts occur when proteins in the lens of the eye break down, causing vision to become cloudy. They are very common with aging—about half of everyone over the age of 80 has either had cataracts addressed with surgery or currently live with them. But they also afflict younger people and some people are born with them, including a few people in MrBeast’s video. The condition is addressed relatively easily by a surgery that extracts the old lens and replaces it with an artificial lens.

Estimates put the cost of cataract surgery sans insurance at somewhere near $7000 per eye. Only 80 percent of that is covered by Medicare, not including deductibles, according to Forbes Health. The price is higher if you need a more expensive lens to deal with far-sightedness, near-sightedness or astigmatism, ailments not typically covered by insurance.

Access to cataract surgery is an important topic for the doctor who performed them in MrBeast’s video, as well. The surgeries were performed by Dr. Jeffrey Levenson, a Jacksonville, Florida surgeon who has been raising funds to offer the surgeries for free through a nonprofit for 20 years. In a five-year-old video on Tedx Santa Barbara, Levenson describes getting cataracts himself and then laments that 200 million people across the globe either don’t have access to or can’t afford such surgery. Many of those 200 million people live in the Global South; this may be the reason many of the doctors mentioned in Levenson’s talk as innovators of modern cataract surgeries also live in the Global South.

It is undeniably dystopian that this surgery is inaccessible to many, and that a group of people had to wait for the random charity of a moneyed internet star to get it. MrBeast cured 1,000 people’s blindness because society is broken, but that seems like the point.

Posted by christinesalazar on

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