Fundraising for vision restoration

Digital Edition, Ophthalmology Times: November 1, 2021, Volume 46, Issue 18

An experience at the grocery store serves as a reminder of the importance of fundraising for eye research.

I was standing in the checkout line in my local grocery store and the time had come to pay for my comestibles. My preference is to purchase food items shortly before dinner, so I shop frequently—even daily—as they do in Europe and many other countries. It takes time, but the idea is that fresher ingredients almost always translates into a better meal.

My credit card was in my hand and I was about to insert it in the card reader when the lady behind the cash register asked “Would you like to make a donation for prostate cancer research?”

“Actually, I would like to make a donation for eye disease research. How do I do that?” I responded.

“Excuse me, sir?” she replied.

“Well, it seems to me that research into eye disease is extremely important,” I explained. “In fact, a recent survey of Americans revealed that we fear loss of vision more than we fear other diseases, including hearing loss and even cancer.1 Plus, when you think about it, everyone has eyes and is therefore at risk for eye disease, while only older men get prostate cancer. Thus, donations for eye disease research benefit everyone: men and women, young and old. Doesn’t that seem better than something that only benefits men?”

I was eager to know if my logic resonated with this store employee. “Who knows?” I thought to myself, “perhaps I can get this nationwide grocery store chain to start raising funds for eye research!” I waited to hear what she had to say.

It turns out that one of the job duties of department chairs these days is to raise funds, helping to support researchers and also medical student and resident teaching. And it just so happens that my counterpart in the Department of Urology in my medical school had wagered a bottle of wine that his department would raise more than my department. I began to imagine what might happen if I could convince this employee and her manager of the importance of vision research and start having the store ask people to support vision research when they pay. I began to think about what I might say to better get my point across.

The checkout lady looked at me quietly for a few moments. “Sir,” she said. “I just work here.”

Reading my mind, my friend who was in line with me touched my arm before I could go on with my argument. “Do not be obnoxious,” she said quietly. I looked at her, and then at the cashier, who looked relieved.

I inserted my credit card in the reader and paid my bill. “Have a nice day,” said the cashier. “You as well,” I replied.

Reference

1. Preidt, R; Blindness biggest fear for many Americans. August 4, 2016; WebMD, accessed October 6, 2021. www.webmd.com/eye-health/news/20160804/blindness-biggest-fear-for-many-americans