"For years, I traveled to India, Thailand, Indonesia and Kenya to lecture and demonstrate technologically-advanced retina and vitreous surgery at various medical institutions. On one of these trips, after I had spent a long day operating on a woman with retinal damage, I marveled at how many other patients in that particular clinic waiting room had their sight issues resolved by my associates while I was doing a single surgical procedure. It was then that I realized that high-tech surgery was not the answer to the overwhelming blindness that existed around the world.
"Blindness in developing countries, I discovered that day, is primarily caused by cataracts in adults and Vitamin A deficiency (xerophthalmia) in children. Both kinds of medical intervention at that time cost just $10 per patient. I was astounded! The idea that we could give sight to an individual so quickly and so inexpensively excited me and, in 1984, compelled me to start the Combat Blindness Foundation, now Combat Blindness International.
"Headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, we have sponsored thousands of eye screening camps where medical personnel have screened hundreds of thousands of patients. We've funded more than 170,000 cataract surgeries and helped more than 30,000 children suffering from malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiency. Even in today's world, the cost for those services remains low at just $20 per patient. In more recent years, we've helped fund free community eye care clinics in Madison.
"It is the responsibility of the fortunate to help the less fortunate. Our work is possible because of the generosity of friends, foundations, corporations and volunteers. I'm proud that we've developed strategic partnerships with indigenous medical facilities, as well as with Vision 2020: The Right to Sight, a global joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
"The need is great, but so is the reward. Over the years, I have met many people who are living happier and more fulfilling lives because they've received the gift of sight. These grandparents, parents and children inspire me to do more, and I hope that they inspire you. Together, we can be a solution in sight!"
Suresh Chandra, M.D.
Founder and Director
Combat Blindness International
This first chapter of Combat Blindness International formed in 2010 to raise awareness of and funds for the growing work of CBI through strategic partnerships on the West Coast of the United States. Combat Blindness – West Coast is actively sponsoring events and enlisting the help of celebrities through the efforts of an active corps of volunteers.
Combat Blindness International's genesis in India was in large part due to medical partners and other friends who live in that country. Many of those men and women formally organized in 2009 as Combat Blindness – India in an effort to better connect with companies, organizations and institutions there.