In September of 1991, Dr. Duong Quang Trung, the Director of Health Services in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, invited SEE International to organize a volunteer team to perform eye surgery and present lectures in Ho Chi Minh City. Hoping that this request would lead SEE to extend its humanitarian work to other areas of Vietnam, Dr. Trung expressed the dire need for accessible vision care services in disadvantaged areas of the country. Shortly after, SEE began planning to establish an international program in Ho Chi Minh City with the intention of creating a permanent unit of volunteers that would participate in reoccurring eye clinics and reduce preventable blindness in Vietnam.
The first SEE clinic in Vietnam took place in fall of 1992. Six volunteers from Santa Barbara boarded a plane to Ho Chi Minh City with plans to restore sight to 80 patients over the span of four days. With a population of almost 3 million people at the time, the city was overwhelmed with patients in need of eye care. As a result, this clinic was the first of a series of clinics to be held in Vietnam over the next few years.
From 1992-1994, SEE had organized multiple one-week eye clinics to take place in Vietnam. Ophthalmologists from across the U.S. donated their time to participate in sight restoration surgeries, as well as numerous educational seminars in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1993, surgeons from Minnesota and Kentucky joined the initiative and traveled together, restoring sight to over 50 patients during their journey. The surgeons also led a skills exchange seminar with Vietnamese ophthalmologists, teaching them new surgical techniques that they could continue to use long after the clinic had ended. During a clinic the following year in 1994, 100 sight restoring surgeries were performed, and 30 Vietnamese physicians were trained during another skills exchange seminar.
Since establishing this series of programs, SEE International has continuously revisited Vietnam to restore sight from 1992, to most recently in 2019. With this long-term relationship, we have continued to change countless generations of families within the country throughout the years.
Learn about another decade of work: