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Economic Challenges

Transforming Lives: Dr. Jeffrey Levenson on Ending Blindness and Finding Joy

In this enlightening episode of “The Joy of Living,” host Barry Shore welcomes Dr. Jeffrey Levenson, Chief Medical Officer of S.E.E. International, to share his remarkable journey of restoring sight and hope to thousands worldwide. Dr. Levenson’s insights illuminate the global progress in combating blindness and the transformative power of service. Join us for a deep dive into the joy of purposeful living and the profound impact of making a difference. Tune in to gain a new perspective on the world and discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Delve into Dr. Levenson’s experiences in India and the Philippines, where he witnessed firsthand the profound effects of restoring vision to those in need. Discover the remarkable progress in combating blindness worldwide, as Dr. Levenson discusses the exponential increase in cataract surgeries and the significant reduction in blindness rates, particularly in India.

Show Notes:

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[9:06 ] Mr. Beast’s Involvement in Cataract Surgeries

  • Dr. Jeffrey Levenson shares a remarkable story involving Mr. Beast and their collaboration to provide free cataract surgeries around the world.
  • Mr. Beast, a 24-year-old YouTuber with over 250 million subscribers, contacted Dr. Levenson after seeing his TED Talk about ending needless blindness.
  • They organized 1,000 free cataract surgeries, starting in Jacksonville, Florida, and then in five countries worldwide, helping 40 blind individuals in Jacksonville alone.
  • The video documenting the surgeries has been viewed 170 million times, making it one of the most impactful public information campaigns about cataracts.

[15.01] Life-changing impact of cataract surgery

  • Dr. Levenson emphasizes the cost-effectiveness and life-changing impact of cataract surgery, which can be done for as little as $25 in developing countries, compared to $2,000 or more in the United States.
  • He recounts his own experience of undergoing cataract surgery and waking up to a world of vibrant colors and clarity.
  • Dr. Levenson’s journey to help those in need led him to discover manual cataract surgery, a low-cost, high-impact method practiced in developing countries.

[28.01] Mr. Beast’s Compassion and Generosity

  • Impactful stories of Mr. Beast’s charitable acts, including donating $10,000 to a paralyzed man’s family and providing financial assistance to a homeless woman.
  • Mr. Beast’s philosophy of giving away every dollar he earns.
  • How his actions inspire others to help those in need and make a difference in the world.
  • The significance of Mr. Beast’s philanthropy in creating positive change and spreading kindness.
  • Dr. Levenson’s admiration for Mr. Beast’s dedication to helping others.

[37:53] Reflections on Service, Success, and Overcoming Vision Challenges

  • Overview of S.E.E. International’s mission and the 400 volunteer ophthalmologists who donate their time to provide eye care around the world.
  • Dr. Levenson’s description of how S.E.E. International works alongside host doctors overseas to bring sight to the blind.
  • Dr. Levenson reflects on America’s tradition of philanthropy and the desire to share prosperity with others.
  • Barry shares a quote from Dr. Albert Schweitzer about the relationship between success and happiness.
  • Dr. Levenson’s perspective on happiness and success, emphasizing the importance of loving what you do.

[44.01] Finding Flow in Work

  • Dr. Levenson discusses the concept of “flow” and how it contributes to his happiness at work.
  • Describes how his love for his work and other aspects of his life, such as family and exercise, contribute to his overall happiness.
  • Reflects on the difference between his experience, where he knew his vision could be restored, and the experience of those in developing countries who may lose hope due to lack of access to care.

 [50:26 ] Global Impact and Closing Thoughts

  • Discussion on India’s efforts to address blindness, with a ninefold increase in cataract surgeries over 20 years, leading to a significant decrease in blindness rates.
  • Contrasting India’s progress with the challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, such as the Philippines, due to lack of infrastructure and support.
  • Overview of global progress in reducing extreme poverty and improving life expectancy over the past 50 years.
  • Dr. Levenson highlights the importance of recognizing and celebrating progress amid ongoing challenges.
  • Barry expresses admiration for Dr. Levenson’s positive, purposeful outlook and contribution to improving the world.
  • Dr. Levenson emphasizes the importance of focusing on positive, purposeful actions to create a better world.

Insider Tips:

Oday joined IBM Consulting as the Global Sustainability leader in August 2023, bringing extensive experience in scaling businesses and a background in management consulting. Before joining IBM, Oday was the Founder & CEO of Better All Round (BAR), a B-Corp certified, innovative, ESG-focused diversified fiber-based business.

Under his leadership, BAR launched Ora Household Towel, a revolutionary product developed from initial concept to market within a year. Prior to launching BAR, Oday worked for over 20 years as a management consultant, starting his career at KPMG before moving to Accenture, where he held various leadership roles. At Accenture, Oday served as Global Head of Media & Entertainment, Global Head of Business Consulting for Communications, Media & High Tech, and Global Go-to-Market Lead of Accenture’s Analytics business.

Throughout his career, Oday has built strong teams and alliances while serving clients worldwide. In addition to his professional achievements, Oday has served as an advisor to several innovative start-ups and as a founding mentor for Henkel X.

Topics Covered:

  • What is generative AI and how can it help scale sustainability?
  • What will it take to bridge the gap between sustainability aspirations and action?
  • What are three things every business leader should know about generative AI?
  • How does generative AI help organizations collaborate better?
  • Where can our listeners go for more information?

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About Jeffrey H. Levenson, M. D

Jeffrey H. Levenson, M. D., received his undergraduate degree in Biology with honors from Princeton University. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he was the President of A.O.A., the Medical Honor Society. Dr. Levenson served his residency training in Ophthalmology at Emory University where he also served as Chief Resident.