Created in 1982, the West Virginia Ophthalmology Foundation became the Eye Foundation of America (EFA) ten year later. The EFA’s mission is to eliminate avoidable childhood blindness.
The EFA operates on three guiding principles: service, teaching, and research. Collaboration among medical practitioners, trainees, and researchers from the United States and developing countries is crucial to accomplishing the EFA’smission. Together, we can do more.
The EFA serves the needy by offering medical care free of charge. The EFA not only trains medical practitioners to join the global fight against blindness, but also instructs school teachers on how to screen for early eye problems in children and educates the public on eye care and prevention. Research is also critical to determine the best and most efficient ways to implement strategies that will further the EFA’s mission.
Eliminating Avoidable Blindness in Children The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one child goes blind every minute and that 1,4 million children are blind worldwide. Many blind children reside in rural areas and live-in poverty, thus, restricting their access to preventative services and medical care. The World Bank claims that combatting childhood blindness is the single collaboration with both local and visiting medical professionals and teachers.
Parents, their families, and the greater communities have benefitted from the preventative medical care, free procedures, and access to education. By preventing avoidable blindness in children, the EFA gives the gift of 75+ years of a full and productive life
These services are rendered through traveling eye camps and permanent hospitals built by the EFA, including the Goutami Eye Institute in rural India. To address blindness caused by malnutrition, the EFA began collaborating with Johns Hopkins University in 2008 to research the best and most efficient ways to deliver vitamin A supplements to needy areas. These supplements cost just a few cents per dose.
Parents, their families, and the greater communities have benefitted from the preventative medical care, free procedures, and access to education. By preventing avoidable blindness in children, the EFA gives the gift of 75+ years of a full and productive life.
Goutami Eye Institute
In addition to vitamin A treatments, the traveling eye camps, and the Goutami Eye Institute have facilitated 600+ physician exchanges and over 340,000 eye surgeries, 30,000 eye surgeries on children, and the treatment of 3.4 million outpatients since the inception of Eye Foundation of America.
The 100,000 Lives Campaign
The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 20% of the diabetic world population resides in India, totaling approximately 61.3 million diabetics. Diabetes-related complications typically strike during the prime of life and include the development of cataracts at an earlier age than normal, a two-fold increased risk of glaucoma, and small blood vessel damage (i.e., diabetic retinopathy). Retinopathy can cause blindness: however, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90% of cases.
The goal of the 100,000 Lives Campaign is to reach at least 100,000 rural diabetic Indians suffering with or at risk for diabetic retinopathy, where it is believed that 51 % of diabetics are undiagnosed due to lack of access to medical care. An accurate diagnosis is the first step in educating the rural population on how to manage their disease and to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy screenings also require a great deal of collaboration with local Indian doctors, volunteers, trainees, and other medical staff As of November 2013, the EFA had already received donations of $100,000 and reached an early milestone: the development of a van with the ability to house new technology for use in diagnosing diabetes in rural India. In January 2014, Hindu reported that a retinal camera was being used and installed in hospitals for use in diabetic retinopathy screenings. By providing education, screenings, and treatment, the EFA is helping to save the sight of individuals in poor rural areas who lack affordable and accessible healthcare.