Over 40 Years of Service
What We Do
At the invitation of eye surgeons in developing countries, and with the approval of local health and civic authorities, SEE International recruits, organizes, and deploys numerous small surgical teams worldwide to restore sight to underserved populations. Since being founded in 1974, SEE’s eye surgeons have examined more than 3.8 million patients and performed over 460,000 sight-restoring operations. Interested in becoming a SEE Doc? Click here for more information!
SEE International is the link that connects volunteer ophthalmologists to host clinic sites that are in desperate need of help alleviating the overwhelming numbers of people living in states of blindness, both in Santa Barbara County, California and around the world. SEE International organizes the clinics and provides most of the equipment and supplies that are needed. SEE’s volunteer eye surgeons donate their time and pay for all their own travel expenses. During each clinic (approximately five days long), sight is typically restored to 50 to 200 people. Locally, SEE is the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County that provides free eye care to uninsured individuals who otherwise may not have access to affordable vision correction.
To make this extraordinary work both far-reaching and sustainable, SEE relies on donors. We have created a network of in-kind donors, including Alcon, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, and Bausch & Lomb, who donate most of the supplies that are used for the clinics. The remainder of the cost—less than $100 per surgery—is covered by generous individuals and foundations around the world.
Our 600+ volunteer ophthalmologists’ desire to make a difference in the world by using their skills and personal financial resources to cure blindness in developing countries inspires us. We support their philanthropic leadership by maintaining working relationships with surgeons around the world, coordinating international clinics, gathering the best medical supplies available, and offering cutting-edge training for cataract surgery.
Blindness is an underlying cause of poverty and hunger in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the world’s 36 million blind people:
- 89% live in developing countries
- More than 75% of the cases are avoidable or treatable
- Over a third are blind because of cataracts
SEE International’s primary focus is on cataract surgery. This type of surgery is one of the most cost-effective of all health interventions. All it takes is about $100 and a volunteer SEE surgeon can restore the sight of a person who has been blind with cataracts for 5, 10, or even 20 years with a local anesthetic and a 30-minute surgery!