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Who We Are

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.

Our Mission

To eliminate preventable and treatable blindness by increasing affordability and access to quality, comprehensive and sustainable eye care services worldwide. We change how eye care is delivered by changing systems at eye hospitals and clinics by transforming existing eye care resources to provide quality eye care in an efficient, productive, and sustainable manner leading to greater numbers of patients receiving sight-saving treatment and surgery.

Our Purpose

The burgeoning rates of blindness, 90% of which is in developing countries, can only be addressed when the quality of eye care is that which patients will seek, accept, and for those who can afford, be willing to pay for. While training more eye care professionals is a piece of a larger puzzle, the root causes of current inefficiencies, poor quality, and under-utilization of services lie in the poor management and lack of financial sustainability of existing services.

IEF’s passion is to change how eye care is delivered by transforming private, government, and charity eye hospitals into social enterprises that see all economic levels of society. We work closely with local ophthalmologists to develop a sliding fee structure including zero cost based on products and services from which the patients make their own choices. IEF builds capacity for quality clinical and patient services through clinical and management training, creating efficiencies and a level of self-financing, and including eye care services for the poor. By increasing the number of patients examined in the OPD 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 resources and newly trained ophthalmologists will make a huge impact on blindness rates. Additionally, the hospitals themselves will have the capacity to afford and maintain sub-specialists such as retina specialists who require expensive technology to treat patients with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Strong institutions can grow and expand services. Weak ones dependent on outside resources cannot.

Our Values

Challenge the status quo: promote change in the private sector to become more social, and in the public and NGO sector to be more business oriented.

Leadership: develop trusting long-term relationships, inspire eye care providers, and promote effective teams to enable change.

Management systems: create comprehensive, focused, efficient, and high quality eye care systems that serve all patient populations, including the poor.

Demand driven: design services around patient needs and create transparent service choices.

Sustainability: achieve positive cost recovery through revenue generation, diversification and balancing donor inputs to grow services and reduce dependence.

Best practices: develop data to demonstrate effectiveness and communicate best practices to influence policy.

  • Mentoring a “team” vs. individuals is critical to buy-in throughout the service.
  • Mentoring is not just training. It is building a relationship and trust as well as financial investments in building
  • capacity of the mentee, and 2-4 years of solid follow-up.
  • IEF looks for eye clinics and hospitals that are willing to change and adapt to IEF’s sustainability model:Private practices that wish to incorporate services for the poor, NGO and charity hospitals that wish to find creative ways of earning revenue to subsidize the poor, clinics that IEF builds in places where services are lacking for the majority of the population, and fostering a network of like-minded development organizations will create a critical mass of sustainable eye care services that will change how eye care is delivered in the developing world.




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