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MrBeast: Why Has YouTuber Faced Criticism For Blind Surgery Video?

February 3, 2023

The world’s most popular YouTuber has responded to criticism following a video of him funding multiple life-changing operations.

In the post, MrBeast reveals that he paid for sight-restoring cataract surgery for a thousand people.

But the clip, which has over 71 million views, has divided opinion with some calling it “charity porn”.

The 24-year-old, real name Jimmy Donaldson, tweeted in response to suggestions that the video was made purely for financial gain, saying the “average MrBeast video lost $1,500,000 last year”.

MrBeast, who has 131 million subscribers and recently became the world’s most popular YouTuber, initially said he did not expect so many people to view the video.

As more people watched the video, there were questions and concerns over the cost and inaccessibility of eye surgery in some parts of the world.

Some people also suggested rich influencers should not be used to try and fix wider problems in society and healthcare.

But not everyone agrees, with some praising for him raising awareness.

Andrew Hodgson, president of the National Federation of the Blind of the UK, told BBC Newsbeat: “Anything that puts a spotlight on such treatable eye conditions like cataracts and provides funding for people to undergo surgery to restore their sight should be welcomed.

“Why would anybody criticise this work and raising awareness of it through film and social media channels?”

A spokeswoman for Sightsavers, an international charity, added they were “encouraged to see the subject of the global eye health burden being raised to a large public audience”.

“Eye health is often a forgotten topic when it comes to global health conversations, but eye health equals opportunity, allowing children to learn and adults to earn,” they added.
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One Twitter user notes “the fact it took charity for these people to get help highlights the problem”.

But another user said “paying for 1000 blind people to have eye surgery is a nice thing to do, but using that act of generosity into content turns it into a tacky and tasteless act of charity porn”.

Dr Jeff Levinson, the surgeon who worked on behalf of the social media star, says in the video “half of all the blindness in the world is people who need a 10 minute surgery”.

MrBeast is known for videos featuring huge cash giveaways and prizes, as well as charity work.

In 2021, he launched a separate philanthropy-themed YouTube channel, which itself has more than 10 million subscribers, and he has a licensed charity that functions as a food bank to feed communities across the US.

More than two million people are living with sight loss in the UK, of which 340,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted, according to the NHS.

In the instance that an individual’s quality of life is impacted by their declining sight, the NHS provides assessment and surgery if and whenever necessary.

The Royal College of Optometrists reported that in the UK just under 44,000 cataract procedures were carried out in one month alone in 2021.

Despite the mixed response, MrBeast’s impact on those who received surgery is visible in the emotional reaction of those he helped.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to see again,” said one patient who had previously been a cashier, but had been forced to stop working when his sight loss became so advanced.

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