The International Eye Foundation (IEF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and restoring sight. Founded in 1961 by John Harry King Jr., MD and Thomas A. Dooley, MD as the International Eye Bank, IEF changed its focus from corneal transplantation to prevention of blinding diseases in 1965 and changed its name to the International Eye Foundation to ensure the delivery of eye care to underserved communities throughout the developing world.
In 1999, the organization evolved by reorienting its programming toward sustainability of eye hospitals in under-developed countries. SightReach® Management, IEF’s flagship program, invests in and provides technical assistance to private, charity, and government eye hospitals to transform how they deliver eye care. The goal is to achieve a level of financial self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on donations, yet still be able to serve the poorest individuals in need of care. IEF’s approach focuses on building local management capacity, quality services, financial resources, cost reduction, and creative pricing structures enabling revenue generating services that cross-subsidize services for the poor.
By increasing the number of patients examined by 10% to 40% year on year, increasing cataract surgery by at least 10% up to 300% year on year, and by increasing earned revenue by 10% to 30% year on year, existing human and technological resources demonstrate a huge impact on reducing blindness rates. Additionally, the eye hospitals themselves will have the capacity to afford and maintain sub-specialists such as retina specialists, improve and maintain critical technology, and treat patients with conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy who require sub-specialist care. IEF’s goal is to build strong institutions that can grow and expand services, build strong reputations for quality care, and prevent “brain drain” of qualified ophthalmic personnel. IEF is a thought leader in sustainability programming and was the first organization to adapt the successful models in India outside the Indian sub-IEF continues to support onchocerciasis (river blindness) control and neglected tropical disease programs in Cameroon. Onchocerciasis control programs delivering community-based Mectizan® were pioneered by IEF in 1990 in Guatemala and with Africare in Nigeria as soon as Mectizan® became available for human use by Merck and Company, Inc. Additional programs were pioneered in Cameroon and Malawi in 1992. Guatemala was declared “onchocerciasis free” by the World Health Organization in 2016.
IEF is the Technical Advisor to the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Child Blindness Program (CBP) which provides grants to pediatric eye care programs around the world. Focusing on threats to eye health in children, IEF influences how grants are made in order to achieve quality and impact for USAID.