In 1974, Dr. Harry Brown founded SEE International in response to the overwhelming number of individuals around the world living with preventable blindness.
After graduating from the University of Missouri, he served as a line officer in the U.S. Navy before entering George Washington University Medical School, where he graduated in 1959. Dr. Brown then interned at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, CA, and went on to complete the residency program at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA.
Once he completed his education, Dr. Brown embarked on a year-long trip across the globe with his wife, four children, and mother. During this journey, he worked as a visiting ophthalmologist in Johannesburg, South Africa; North Gujarat, India; and Kabul, Afghanistan.
On this journey, Dr. Brown witnessed the overwhelming need for accessible eyecare in the developing world, and became inspired to create an organization of volunteer doctors who perform free sight-restoring surgeries in areas that lacked resources or access to quality care.
He subsequently moved to Santa Barbara in 1971, where he later founded SEE International and began a private practice.
To address the global lack of access to high-quality clinical eye care, Dr. Brown and his colleagues developed an efficient mobile eye surgery system of intensive, short-term surgical clinics for remote, medically underserved populations worldwide.
In an effort to create more sustainable eyecare systems, these clinics also consisted of skills-exchange seminars, in which traveling and host doctors educated one another in new and efficient surgical techniques.
What began with a small group of medical professionals soon grew into a network of what is now over 650 volunteer ophthalmologists, both traveling and host doctors alike, who provide tools, training, and expertise to help combat preventable blindness across the globe.
Over the years, SEE’s programs have expanded to over 45 countries, where we collaborate with our partners in organizing short-term sight-restoring clinics for those who would otherwise not have access to care.
In the 1980s, SEE launched its Santa Barbara Vision Care (SBVC) Program to offer quality eyecare services to individuals right here within our own community. SBVC has now extended to multiple counties with five clinics, where we provide free eye exams, glasses, medicine, and essential eye surgeries to hundreds of locals every year.
In 2016, we expanded our impact to reach across the U.S., coordinating domestic programs in support of those without vision insurance. These U.S. programs now provide resources to low-income families and individuals in need of access to comprehensive eye exams and glasses free of cost.
In 2006, SEE bolstered its educational efforts by establishing Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) courses, where SEE doctors volunteer to train medical professionals in the surgical technique used in the field.
Since beginning these courses, SEE has been responsible for training over 950 ophthalmologists worldwide.
In the last 45 years, SEE has restored sight to over 600,000 people, making their families and communities healthier and stronger.
As SEE International continues to grow, we have remained relentlessly dedicated to our mission of addressing preventable blindness and making eyecare more accessible around the world and here at home.
We will continue transforming lives with the precious gift of sight. Together, we can create a visibly brighter future.