Monday, November 8, 2010

Dr. Larry Schwab Campaigns Against Cluster Munitions

IEF Board member Dr. Larry Schwab is a delegate in Vientiane, Lao PDR (Laos) at the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Dr. Schwab is campaigning to ban cluster munitions and landmines which cause severe blinding injuries. The meeting, being held November 9-12, 2010 will establish the means for implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions which was signed in Oslo, Norway in December 2008.

Dr. Schwab has long been an advocate for a ban on landmines, a completely preventable and horrific cause of blindness in developing countries that do not have the resources to clear these weapons once a conflict has ended. In June 1996, the International Eye Foundation was the first eye care NGO to pass a resolution in support of the international ban on the production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of antipersonnel landmines. This was in advance of the 1997 Ottawa Comprehensive Treaty to Ban Antipersonnel Landmines.

Photo: Dr. Larry Schwab (left) with wife Martha presents a copy of his book "Eye Care in Developing Nations" to former President Jimmy Carter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


International Eye Foundation’s President
Victoria M. Sheffield
receives the
Prince Abdulaziz Ahmad Al Saud
International Prevention of Blindness Award

The prestigious Prevention of Blindness Award recognizes an outstanding individual who has made a substantial contribution to the Global fight against blindness and visual disability and helped to further MEACO's mission to unite and strengthen the relationship of ophthalmologists and ophthalmic societies in the Middle East and Africa.

The award was presented on October 17, 2010 at the opening session of the American Academy of Ophthalmogy (AAO) and the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) joint meeting in Chicago.

Ms. Sheffield is seen receiving the award from the President of MEACO for whom the award is named - His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Ahmad Al-Saud of the Saudi Royal Family

Over a period of 38 years, Ms. Sheffield has worked across all regions of the world developing and executing eye care programs, providing training and conducting research. She is a leader in the sustainability approach to quality eye care in developing countries. A member of the AAO's Global Outreach Committee, Ms. Sheffield is the author of numerous scientific articles and presentations. She holds leadership positions in the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and the rank of Commander in The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. Ms. Sheffield has lived in five countries on four continents, has traveled to 98 countries and has professional experience in 41 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

The award recognizes Victoria’s significant contribution to the prevention of blindness and the restoration of sight in the developing world especially in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and Africa.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The Board of Directors and worldwide staff of the International Eye Foundation are saddened by the passing of Dr. E. Gail dePlanque. Gail served on the IEF from 2004 - 2007 and was a faithful supporter of our sight saving programs.

A renowned physicist, Dr. dePlanque had a most distinguished career and served on numerous boards and committees. A brilliant and vibrant person, she will be missed by those who had the privelege of knowing her. Our condolences go out to her family.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tribute to Dr. Moses Chirambo, Malawi

Mrs. Ellen Chirambo and Family:

We were shocked and saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Prof. Moses Chirambo. He was a wonderful ophthalmologist, distinguished colleague, strong leader and great friend. As the first Malawian ophthalmologist, he has made a huge impact on Malawi, and his lasting legacy is the eye care service we see today, built from nearly nothing thanks to his leadership.

Moses and I watched each other get older and greyer and laughed about it when we met at international conferences around the world. We laughed when we realized we both colored our hair and I suddenly knew his secret of never seeming to change. I remember in the 1980’s when I was tired of hotel food, Moses took me home for lunch to your wonderful msima and stew. What a joy you all brought to my life!

The International Eye Foundation (IEF) first gave Moses a grant in 1975 to get his clinic started. Thus began IEF’s long history in Malawi. In 1980, IEF and the WHO co-sponsored a workshop on prevention of blindness at the Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. Moses’ leadership shone a light on Malawi and the SADC region even 30 years ago.

I remember when IEF started the OMA Training Program in 1980. And when there was no ophthalmologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Moses asked IEF to post ophthalmologists there which we did for 15 years until 1995. Drs. Larry Schwab, Paul Steinkuller, Baxter McLendon, Teferra Tizazu, Gabriella Bar, Paul Courtright and Susan Lewallen all lived and worked in Malawi for 3-4 years until a Malawian ophthalmologist could be trained and posted there. He knew he could not do it alone and he made plans for Malawi’s future in ophthalmology.

Over the last 20 years as IEF developed vitamin A/child survival programs in Chikwawa and Nsanje, and the onchocerciasis (river blindness) control program in the Thyolo Highlands, Moses pushed us forward because he knew how devastating these diseases were on Malawians, especially the children. In 2000 as we invested in sustainability programming and optical services at the eye hospitals in Lilongwe and Blantyre, Moses cleared the path because he understood the importance of reducing the eye hospitals’ dependence on outside support and strengthening their own capacity.

Moses’ election to Parliament and his service as Minister of Health are a testament to his dedication and love for Malawi. It’s hard to imagine Malawi without Moses. As one of our colleagues said, we have lost one of the founding fathers of African ophthalmology.

John Barrows, our Director of Programs and Ed Henderson, our Director of Finance and Administration as well as former IEFers lived in Malawi working with Peace Corps and other development NGOs. Malawi is strong in IEF’s history and Moses will always be part of our IEF family.

Moses was a mentor, friend to all, and someone who will be sorely missed. In fact, he was a national treasure. I know that Malawians will celebrate his life. Thank you Nyaka for sharing him with us all these years. Your sacrifice made his success possible.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and worldwide staff of the International Eye Foundation, I say God bless Prof. Chirambo and God bless you Ellen and your family.

Victoria M. Sheffield

President & CEO

Photo above: IEFers who have worked in Malawi with Dr. Chirambo. L to R: Dr. Paul Steinkuller, Dr. Susan Lewallen, Prof. Moses Chirambo, Dr. Shmuel Levine, Dr. Baxter McLendon, Ms. Victoria Sheffield, Dr .Larry Schwab, Mr. John Barrows.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New staff member at SightReachSurgical

Adminstrative Assistant, Leaticia Nguiandem joins IEF's expanding
SightReachSurgical (SRS) program.

Program Director William Shields, in announcing this new position, said that "SightReach Surgical provides quality products from a trusted source at affordable prices" and that he and program assistant Rowan Burke are "delighted to have Leaticia on board. SRS now provides services in 145 countries so with the addition of Leaticia to the staff, I will be able to spend more time on the growing consultancy services side of SRS".

Ms. Nguiandem was born in Cameroon, but has lived in the US since she was 9 years old and was educated here. She is fluent in French which is an added benefit to IEF and its international partners.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Shields Visits Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia

William Shields, SightReach Surgical® Director recently returned from a trip to Sydney, Australia. He met with representatives of the Fred Hollows Foundation, based in Sydney, to finalize a two-year consulting contract for procurement services. The services that IEF/SRS will perform under the contract include advising on procurement, help negotiate with vendors, assess procurement practices, and orient staff to general procurement principles and ophthalmic technology. SightReach Surgical® has been expanding its services by securing consulting contracts similar to this one with Fred Hollows Foundation.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Officers Elected for 2010-2011

During the Annual Board of Directors meeting on June 24, the IEF Board elected new officers for the 2010-2011 year. Elected were Chairman - Dr. Frank S. Ashurn, Jr., Vice Chair - Frances P. Legon, Secretary - Barbara Heineback, Treasurer - Roger Jantio, Senior Medical Director - Dr. W. Scott Peterson. Nancyfaye Autenzio will serve as Immediate Past Chair.

Having been associated with IEF for most of its existence, it is fitting for Dr. Ashburn to serve as Chair of the Board during IEF's 50th year. Further information will be announced in future editions regarding plans for celebrating our 50 years of saving sight...for a lifetime.

IEF Recognizes Board Members for Service

The IEF recognized members for their dedicated service who are leaving the IEF Board after completing their second three-year term. Globe awards were presented to those attending the June 24 Annual Board of Directors meeting held at the offices of Nelson Mullins in Washington, DC.

In the photo above, (L photo) Victoria Sheffield (R) presents Globe award to outgoing Chair Nancyfaye Autenzio; (Center photo) Nancyfaye presents Globe to Dr. James Ganley, Immediate Past Chair; and Nancyfaye presents Globe to Frances Pierce, outgoing Treasurer. Also leaving the Board but not in attendance were Helen Clark Atkeson, Ambassador Guilllermo Castillo, Lawrence S. Clark, and Dr. Danuta Haciski.

IEF is deeply grateful to all those leaving the Board for their dedication and commitment.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grateful parent thanks Lavelle Fund

Angel Torres is a 3 year old little boy who was born with downs syndrome. Unable to see he had been on the waiting list for eye-surgery since birth.

Still bottle fed, because his lack of sight made it impossible to feed himself, Angel was too weak to be able to receive the therapies that would enable him to walk and achieve his full potential.
Fortunately for Angel, his mother learned about the doctors at the Visualiza Clinic in Guatemala City.

Thanks to their partnership with IEF, and through them support from the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, Visualiza's social sevices program provides affordable, quality eye-care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

Angel was operated on by Dr. Mariano Yee, and since then has made great progress, he eats ordinary food, and is now strong enough to go to therapy on a regular basis.

Andrew Fisher, Executive Director of the Lavelle Fund along with members of the Lavelle Board were in Guatemala recently and while there, met with Angel and is mother and were presented with a plaque in appreciation of the support that made Angel's surgery possible.

The Lavelle Fund for the Blind is dedicated to supporting programs that promote the spiritual,moral, intellectual and physical development of blind and low-vision people of all ages, together with programs that help people avoid vision loss.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Lifetime of Service – Dr. Lakshmi Rahmathullah

For the Rahmathullah family from India, service to others is a way of life. IEF’s Sustainability Specialist Raheem Rahmathullah learned well the lessons of working for a better life for those less fortunate. Soon to turn 80, his mother Dr. Lakshmi Rahmathullah has striven for over a half century to benefit the poor, particularly women and children. Early in her life, she was influenced by Mother Teresa under whom she studied for a year. A general physician still practicing in Kariapatti, India, she is recognized internationally as an authority on micronutrients, particularly vitamin A. Her work has earned her many honors, yet she remains committed to serving the people. Her son Raheem furthers her legacy through his work with IEF to expand eye care in the developing world by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of eye clinics and hospitals. The IEF is proud of its association with Dr. Rahmathullah and extend the warmest of birthday greetings.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Denver Tastes Wine to Save Sight

Gathering at the home of IEF Board Member Helen Clark Atkeson and her husband Stan Raine Sunday May 16, over 50 guests sipped fine wine and helped save sight. A wine tasting hosted and sponsored by Helen and Stan helped raise over $4,000 to support IEF's sight saving mission. Wines were provided by Mondo Vino.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Mother's Look....A Mother's Hope

There is magic in the look of a mother gazing upon her children. There is love, and there is hope. In too much of the world, there is also a look of concern. Living in difficult conditions, there is much to worry about, especially their child's sight and health.

Your gift can ease this worry for so many mothers and their children. IEF helps ensure children get the treatment and surgery they need to keep their sight...for a lifetime. Partnering with 24 eye care institutions in 15 countries, IEF is helping close the gaps in eye care in areas of great need. By adopting IEF's sustainability model, our partners are saving the sight of more children than ever before.

As we remember and honor our Mothers, please make your contribution to a brighter future, one filled with hope with and the gift of sight.

Celebrate life, celebrate sight...for a lifetime. Thank you!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wine Tasting in Philly to Save Sight

Thirsty patrons gathered in the beautiful
Library Lounge of the historic Union League of Philadelphia last Thursday night to enjoy a selection of fine wines. Hosted by IEF Board member Mark Izzo and his wife Susanna, the events proceeds will benefit IEF in its work restoring sight around the world.

Kevin Keys, Head Wine Steward for the Union League, along with Sylvio Lelli of Nationwide Wine & Spirits, presented a variety of fine wines, describing each in turn for everyones edification. Tasty hors d'ouevres were enjoyed between tastings.

IEF wishes to thank the Sponsors for the evening: ADP Payroll, Converge, Johnson & Johnson, Nationwide Wine & Spirits, NSM Insurance, Peter Ierardi-UBS Financial, Standard Insurance, TALX Unemployment Service, the Union League of Philadelphia.

Photos: Top-Mark Izzo (L) & Victoria Sheffield (R)

Right - (L to R) Barbara Heineback, Susanna & Mark Izzo, Frances R. Pierce

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Outpatient Visits Increase in Honduras

Through the work of Dr. Diego Alberto Mejia and his staff at the Centro deVision-Dr. Douglas Perry Clinic. IEF's partner clinic in San Pedro Sula, Honduras is showing a steady increase in its social outreach services.

Reports for March show that over the last 8 months there has been a three fold increase of outpatients seen. Numbers have increased from 2-5 per month to 20-25 per month.

CMIS Operational at Divino Nino Jesus in Peru

New IEF Sight Reach® Management partner - the Divino Nino Jesus Clinic in Lima, Peru is a very productive faith based social eye clinic with big plans for the future. The adminstrator of the clinic is Ing. Alberto D. Lazo Legua and with his wholehearted support, this generous and energetic group plans to expand their services and use the Divino Nino Jesus/SightReach approach to sustainability as a model for other clinics in Latin America.
The clinic now has a new hospital management software system up and running. IEF assisted in the installation and implementation of the new Computer Management Information System (CMIS) which was developed in Spanish by Visualiza in Guatemala with IEF support. Pictured are Ing. Juan Emanuel Echeverria and Arq. Juan Francisco Yee of Visualiza working on the installation of the new system.
In the bottom photo, IEF's sustainability specialist Raheem Rahmathullah, Divino Nino Jesus's administrator Alberto Lazo Legua and Visualiza's systems engineer Juan Echeverria are seen enjoying a well earned cup of coffee after the successful testing of the installation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Volvo Car Raffle - Benefits 2 non-profits

IEF Raffle benefits not one, but two non-profits.
The International Eye Foundation(IEF) held a raffle to raise funds for eye care in developing countries. If all the tickets were sold, the prize was a Volvo Station Wagon. if less were sold then the winner received 50% of all the income from the raffle.
In a surprise outcome, the winning ticket was not only sold by a non-profit, IEF, but was also purchased by a non-profit, the Marietta Restoration Associates (MRA). Pictured on the right is IEF's Finance Director, Edward Henderson, holding the basket of tickets as the manager of the Kensington Branch of the Chevy Chase Bank draws the winning ticket. Seen on the left is IEF's Development Director, Wendy Codd presenting a check for the winnings to the MRA President, Raymond McKeeby.
The money raised from the raffle has been put to good use. Restoring sight around the world, and restoring an historic building in the USA - the Vesta Furnace in Marietta, PA.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guatemala Visit

Recently I was able to visit IEF's Guatmala partner clinic, Visualiza, in Guatemala City. There I was able to see at first hand the amazing work that the the dedicated staff, under the leadership of Ophthalmologist Dr. Mariano Yee, do to prevent blindness and restore sight to those who otherwise would be unable to see.

The Visualiza Clinic has a strong school outreach program in Guatemala. During my visit, children from La Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta, Caseno La Virgin, who had been diagnosed with vision problems came to the clinic for additional testing. The children had made a poster and written thank you letters and cards. Here is a photograph of IEF's Director of Development, Wendy Codd, accepting this poster on behalf of the Clinic staff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Celebrate Spring

Celebrate Spring's promise of new life with the Gift of Sight. Restoring sight awakens hope for a better life

For a child facing a lifetime of blindness, it's frightening. 10 year old Irma Liliana lives in a humble two room wood home in Guatemala City. Her hardworking parents earn less than $10 a day to provide for their family of six.

Irma started going blind in her left eye in early 2008 and there simply wasn't enought money to pay for the operation she needed. A year later, Irma's parents took her to the social service clinic at Visualiza, IEF's partner in Guatemala City. The eye doctors diaagnosed keratasis, a severe inflamation of the cornea that causes scarring and blindness. The only way to save Irma's sight was a corneal transplant operation.

Last June, Irmal received her new cornea and her sight was restored. She has returned to school, she plays with her friends and enjoys life with renewed promise. Her parents are so grateful to the doctors at Visualiza saying "...there are no words to say for all you have done".

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Philadelphia Wine Tasting at the Union League

Sample great wines while helping "save sight for a lifetime" at the beautiful and historic Union League in downtown Philadelphia on April 29 from 6 to 8 pm. Save the Date to attend this outstanding evening of great wine, delicious food and good deeds. The cost is only $75 per person and reservations may be made online at Hosted by Mark and Susanna Izzo of Converge LLC in Pennsylvania. For additional information, contact Calvin Baerveldt at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Rebuild Eye Care in Devastated Haiti

The devastating earthquake in Haiti has destroyed much of the fragile medical resources available in this extremely poor country. We need your help to rebuild eye care services in Haiti -- providing critical instruments and supplies, replacing lost and damaged equipment, and supporting national efforts for emergency and long term eye care services.

Please help the people of Haiti. Click Here to contribute -- restoring vision, and hope.

Thank You!!

Victoria M. Sheffield
President & CEO