Helps end preventable blindness in Asia, Africa and Latin America - and among American Indians in the U.S. - through sight restoring surgeries and other interventions, combining direct action and support and training of local practitioners.

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Every five seconds, someone in the world goes blind - and a child goes blind every minute. Of the 39 million blind people worldwide, 90% of them live in the poorest areas of developing countries. Yet 80% of the world's blind people could see again if they had access to adequate eye care services.

  • Approximately 39 million are blind around the globe with another 246 million people living with visual impairment.

  • Cataract surgery and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
  • An estimated 19 million children are visually impaired

  • About 65% of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older, while this age group comprises only 20% of the world's population

  • American Indians are at greatest risk for diabetic eye disease, such as diabetic retinopathy, because they have the highest rates of diabetes among all racial/ethnic groups in the U.S.

  • Despite the existence of U.S. government supported tribal health programs, unmet eye health needs among American Indians are significant:

    • Only a minority of tribal health programs have an eye care provider on-site.

    • Tribal health programs that provide vision services do not have adequate funding, staffing, or equipment.

    • Due to their limited resources, most programs cannot conduct outreach activities, so providers must wait for patients to come into the clinic.

    • Language and other cultural barriers discourage American Indians from seeking eye care. Few eye care providers are American Indian.

    • Many American Indians cannot access existing eye care services because they have limited incomes and transportation and because they have to deal with long waiting lists.

    Programs Offered

    Seva has three internationally-oriented primary sight programs all of which are explicitly tailored to the cultures and circumstances of the peoples served -- and designed to help local communities become self-sufficient in addressing their needs in terms of both skills and financial resources.

    • Direct Eye Care Services -- Brings high quality, high volume eye care services to low income, under-served people in developing countries. Supports local hospitals and clinics in Asia, Africa, and the Americas by helping them provide basic eye care, surgeries, eye exams and glasses at little or no cost. Organizes and supports mobile eye camps and innovative community outreach services to extend services to remote rural areas.

    • Sustainable Eye Care Programs -- Trains local people to provide care to their own communities. Has created and helps adapt and implement a successful model of high volume, quality care where fees charged to those who can afford to pay subsidize care for the poorest patients.

    • Center for Innovative Eye Care -- Established in 2004, develops and identifies best practices in eye care that are adaptable to the populations addressed by Seva. Establishes and nurtures service networks which increase the quality, productivity and affordability of vital vision services.

    • American Indian SIght Initiative -- For many years, SEVA provided a range of technical support and consulting services to American Indian communities seeking to address health problems Beginning in 2013, SEVA has begun concentrating its interactions with American Indians on eye health because of the many parallels between the eye health needs of American Indians and the under-served communities SEVA supports around the world.

    • School Screening Program in New Mexico -- As an early initiative in its re-focused American Indian program, Seva has partnered with Helen Keller International’s ChildSight® program to provide a school screening initiative in the Gallup, New Mexico, area that provides students with professional vision screenings and, if needed, a pair of prescription eyeglasses, all at no cost to their families.

    Historical Results

    Nearly 4 million blind people see again thanks to Seva's affordable eye care services implemented throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. In 2014 , Seva-supported programs served over 1,000,000 people, and provided surgery to 85,000 people who suffered from vision impairment - the majority of which were to remove blinding cataracts.

    In the 2012-2013 academic year, 5,209 students within the Navajo Reservation were screened and 1,501 (29%) were provided with prescription eyeglasses. In addition, 221 (4%) students were referred for follow-up care.

    Use of Funds

    • $50 funds sight restoring surgery for an individual in the developing world.

    • $1,500 funds a one day outreach clinic in the most remote communities in the world like Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Guatemala.

    • $5,000 funds the training of an ophthalmic assistant who manage primary eye care units in isolated communities

    • $7,500 funds a week long outreach clinic in the most remote communities in the world like Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Guatemala. Has the ability to restore sight for 30 or more people per day.

    • $15,000 funds an eye camp where an average of 300 sight restoring eye surgeries will be performed along with several hundred additional exams and other basic eye care services

    • $20,000 enables Seva to upgrade a general physician in Nepal or Cambodia to a fully trained ophthalmologist through a five-year residency program

    • $25,000 funds thousands of eye exams through school screening programs and the provision of glasses for those who need them

    • $100,000 will build and fully equip a primary eye care center in an isolated community in countries like Nepal or Cambodia

    • $250,000 will build and equip a secondary eye hospital

    Path to Credibility

    Focusing Philanthropy staff meet frequently with the senior staff of Seva to review operations, goals, and capabilities.

    In Spring 2013, two Focusing Philanthropy team members visited Visualiza, Seva's local partner in Guatemala. See their trip reports on this page for the visits to Visualiza's two clinics. Observations made at the two clinics (one urban and the other rural) and interactions with the owners/managers of Visualiza were very positive, validating the effectiveness of Seva and its positive interactions with local partners.

    In Winter 2013-2014, Focusing Philanthropy team members visited Nepal and India. In Nepal they witnessed several events held by Seva's in country partners. One was a two day eye camp in Khandbari. Hundreds of people from the surrounding villages came for eye care. The other events were dedication ceremonies for the eye clinics that were being built as a result of the last joint Focusing Philanthropy/Seva World Sight Day campaign. The trip reports are available on this page for more information

    Focusing Philanthropy then visited the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India. Aravind is Seva's original international eye care partner. They are now the leading authority for eye care in the world. Aravind treats 10,000 patients a day for a variety of eye care needs. Please see the trip report for more information.

    In Fall 2014, Focusing Philanthropy team members visited 2 Seva programs in Cambodia. They were able to witness surgeries that were made possible from the 2014 World Sight Day campaign that Focusing Philanthropy and Seva collabrated. For more information please visit the available trip reports.

    In October of 2015, 2 Focusing Philanthropy team members and 1 board member once again visited the Seva partner organization Visualiza in Guatemala. At their location in Guatemala City, the new office and surgery center across from the old site was nearly complete. This will more than double their daily capacity for seeing patients.

    In early February 2017, a Focusing Philanthropy team member visited Myanmar on an organized Seva donor visit to see the roll out of the Seva/Aravind program to a new country. The Metta Shin Hospital, and partner in-country partner organization, was nearing construction completion but the eye clinic was fully operational and seeing patients while the FP staff member was there. They had the capacity to perform 60 surgeries per day and see numerous patients for eye glasses fittings and other forms of eye care. This capacity is expected to grow over the coming months.

    Focusing Philanthropy has interviewed various individuals and organizations that have donated to and collaborated with Seva. Resulting feedback has been consistently positive and informed.

    Seva is supported by the Skoll Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation among others.

    The founders of Focusing Philanthropy contribute personally to Seva.

Countries Served



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