1961: founded by John Harry King, Jr. MD in collaboration with Thomas A. Dooley, MD as the International Eye Bank, a branch of CARE/Medico, and incorporated as the International Eye Foundation in 1969 after assuming a leadership role in public health ophthalmology.
1960s – 1970s: established and expanded programs to train paramedical personnel, ophthalmologists and nurses in Asia and East Africa (Bangladesh, India, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Kenya).
1971-1984: IEF’s Society of Eye Surgeons holds first global congresses bringing together 200-250 of the world’s leading ophthalmologists:
1971: I World Congress, Washington, DC, USA
1973: II World Congress, Athens, Greece
1975: III World Congress, San Salvador, El Salvador
1980: IV World Congress, Nairobi, Kenya
1984: V World Congress, Cairo, Egypt
1976-1984: sponsored the Kenya Rural Blindness Prevention Project, considered a model for governments to use when improving eye care services for rural communities.
1977: Vitamin A Program with international experts conducted jointly at IEF Headquarters and The Nutrition Rehabilitation Institute in Madurai, South India, funded by USAID.
1978: at the founding meeting of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness ((IAPB), IEF founder Dr. John Harry King is appointed as “alternate” to Group F “Members ‘at large’ elected in recognition of the individual contribution which they can make to the work of the Agency”. IEF has participated in every quadrennial IAPB general assembly since 1978.
1979: IEF establishes the “new Jordan Eye Bank” at the Jordan University Hospital in Amman (Jordan).
1980: First technical assistance mission to Guinea Conakry, West Africa resulting in the posting of a French ophthalmologist by IEF to help the one local ophthalmologist develop the national eye care service.
1980: Established the Ophthalmic Medical Assistant Program in Malawi.
1985: the first international eye care non-governmental organization (NGO) to be granted “official relations” with the World Health Organization.
1986: established the first USAID funded Vitamin A/child survival programs in Malawi.
1991: first US NGO to establish a public health eye care programs in Eastern Europe (Albania and Bulgaria).
1991-1992: Sponsored the first random-sample, community-based blindness prevalence survey in Eastern Europe conducted in collaboration with the Dana Center for Prevention Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (Bulgaria).
1992: Established the “International Eye Bank Sofia” in collaboration with the International Federation of Eye Banks, now Tissue Banks International in Baltimore (Bulgaria).
1992: developed an innovative program known as SightReach® to help young ophthalmologists in Central America establish private eye clinics in underserved areas (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras).
1991-1992: the first US NGO to establish community-based ivermectin distribution programs in Africa and Latin America to treat patients with onchocerciasis, commonly known as river blindness (Cameroon, Malawi, Nigeria in partnership with Africare, and Guatemala).
1993-1998: IEF’s President & CEO, Victoria Sheffield, chairs the IAPB “Partnership Committee of International Non-Governmental Organizations Dedicated to the Prevention of Blindness and Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind” reconstituted by IAPB in 2004 as the “Council of Members”.
1999: established SightReach Surgical®, a social enterprise within IEF to address the lack of access and affordability of ophthalmic products in the developing world.
2000: established SightReach® Management (now Sustainability Initiatives), an innovative, social-entrepreneurial approach to eye care service delivery which transforms public, private, and charity eye hospitals into self-sustaining, social enterprises providing efficient, patient-based, quality eye care to all sectors of their communities including the poorest.