Unite For Sight's Philosophy of International Eye Care
Our high-impact programs are sustainable, apply best practice principles in global health and development, and achieve effective change. We have developed a leading model that is providing high quality, cost-effective care to some of the world's poorest people.
We Apply Best Practices in Public Health & Community Eye Care
Quality Patient Care
- By partnering with local eye clinics, our programs provide consistent, quality, and sustainable health care.
- All eye care services are comprehensive, including examinations by local eye doctors, diagnosis and care for all treatable conditions, promotion, and prevention. This full range of services is delivered to the population year-round.
- Our outreach efforts extend to individuals in the surrounding villages, in some cases including villages seven or more hours from the clinic. These patients are provided with follow up care by our outreach teams regularly throughout the year.
- We eliminate patient barriers to care by fully funding surgeries, bringing eye care services to the patients, providing transportation to the eye clinic for surgery as needed, and educating communities about blindness elimination.
- The eye care programs are locally led and managed by partner eye clinics. Those receiving care through Unite For Sight's programs are living in poverty and do not have other avenues for receiving care.
- All eye care and surgeries are provided by local eye doctors.
- We promote high quality surgery with good visual outcome. Unite For Sight's partner ophthalmologists are highly skilled and trained to provide the most advanced type of cataract surgery (SICS and Phaco).
- Patients receive postoperative follow-up care one month after surgery by local eye doctors, and postoperative outcomes and quality of care is monitored.
We Support Eye Clinics By Investing Human and Financial Resources In Their Social Ventures To Eliminate Patient Barriers To Eye Care
- We develop and enhance the quality and productivity of our partner eye clinics to provide care to those living in poverty.
- We provide continuing professional development opportunities for our partner ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses.
- We mobilize eye care professionals throughout the world to work collaboratively, and we encourage the donation of quality equipment to our partner eye clinics.
- We engage, inspire, and train non-eye care professionals to participate as Global Impact Fellows to support and assist eye clinics globally. These volunteers receive training in eye health, public health, and international development. Additionally, while immersed in effective Unite For Sight programs, they gain skills to become new leaders in global health.
- We fund expenses for patients to receive eye care who are living in extreme poverty.
Professional Development For Eye Care Professionals
- Visiting ophthalmologist and optometrist volunteers provide one-on-one mentoring and training for local eye care professionals
- We provide sponsorship for ophthalmic staff at partner eye clinics to pursue training courses and advanced degrees
We Promote Sustainable Development in Eye Care
- Our partner eye clinics have a sustainable business model, and do not rely on Unite For Sight's support to operate or be locally competitive.
- We help existing eye clinics develop outreach infrastructure so that care can be provided to patients living in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, the clinic's private business continues as an enterprise independent of the Unite For Sight-supported outreach programs.
- This strong base of independence and sustainability comes from good business practices, which is why Unite For Sight partners exclusively with existing eye clinics that also provide care to regular paying patients.
We Multiply Surgical Capacity
- With Unite For Sight's support, the local eye clinics are able to double, triple, and in most cases, more than quadruple the number of surgeries that they provide annually.
- For example, prior to working with Unite For Sight, one eye clinic in Accra, Ghana provided 600 surgeries per year. Today, the clinic provides close to 2,500 surgeries each year. 86% of those surgeries are provided to Unite For Sight-sponsored patients, which means that 86% of the patients receiving eye care from the clinic are patients living in extreme poverty.
- In Tamale, Ghana, ophthalmologist Dr. Wanye is the only eye doctor for 2 million people in the entire region. Prior to working with Unite For Sight, Dr. Wanye often went months without providing a single cataract surgery because the community members could not afford the cost of surgery. Unite For Sight volunteers now work with him to assist with screening outreach programs, and Unite For Sight funds the cataract surgeries for the patients so that no one will remain blind due to lack of funds. With the support of Unite For Sight, Dr. Wanye now provides close to 2,000 cataract surgeries each year
- In Chennai, India, Uma Eye Clinic has more than quadrupled its capacity to provide surgeries to poor patients from rural villages. During the past two years, Uma Eye Clinic's ophthalmologists provided 2,114 surgeries to patients from rural villages who were otherwise unable to afford quality eye care.
We Create Local Jobs and Empower Families and Communities
- We provide grants to local eye clinics to hire outreach staff, comprised of local ophthalmic nurses, optometrists, coordinators, and outreach van drivers.
- We fund local eye clinics to train and employ Community Eye Health Workers who work daily in their local villages to eliminate patient barriers to eye care.
- Restoring a person's sight creates job opportunities. Blindness in the developing world has a significant effect on families, employment, income, and on the education of children within the family. Those who are blind are usually not able to contribute to a family's income. Additionally, instead of attending school, children within a family are frequently assigned to the role of the caregiver of blind adults.
We Create a Network For An Exchange of Knowledge
- We develop communication channels between eye clinic partners to enable the exchange of proven effective practices, experiences, and lessons learned between clinics located on three continents.
- Most of the eye clinic partners also attend Unite For Sight's GH/Innovate 2010 Global Health & Innovation Conference, which further encourages learning and innovation by sharing information and best practices with 2,200 conference participants across all disciplines of global health and international development.
Transparent and Accountable Financial Structure
- We run a highly effective and efficient organization, and we ensure that 100% of all donations go directly to providing eye care for patients living in extreme poverty in the developing world.
- The cost of a sight-restoring cataract surgery ranges from $10-$100, depending on the country location and the local availability and nature of surgical supplies.
"We really need to encourage a lot of NGOs interested in eye care to follow Unite For Sight's example and to work from the bottom up. Many NGOs, the way they start, there are a lot of costs and a lot of overhead, and very little actually goes out to benefit those in the program. But in the case of Unite For Sight, they came and got in touch with us. We are a small clinic, and we started outreaches to communities. People started benefiting, the authorities got to know about this and they really appreciated the value of what Unite For Sight is doing..."--Ghanaian ophthalmologist Dr. James Clarke discusses the significance of Unite For Sight's model
Framework Tool To Evaluate Programs of Eye Care Organizations
- As it should be for all health care programs, the basis for eye care services must be a philosophy of best practice. A sub-par standard of care, or "worst practices," can do significant harm and create a more substantial barrier to providing effective eye health care. Unite For Sight has developed a framework tool by which one can evaluate the nature of eye care programs and organizations worldwide.