International Vision Volunteers was founded years ago by Dr. James "Bud" Tysinger. Tysinger trained to be an ophthalmologist after serving a mission in West Africa, when he found that restoring sight profoundly and immediately impacted patients' lives. Since then, he has devoted his life to providing high quality eye care in Africa. In 1995, he was able to gather the funds to build a freestanding eye clinic and modern operating room in Zimba, Zambia, adjacent to the already existing Zimba Mission Hospital.
Every year, hundreds of surgeries are done, and thousands patients receive care. Volunteer ophthalmologists, nurses, operating room techs, optometrists and other eye-care professionals pay their own travel expenses to hold eye camps four to six times a year to provide care. In the early 2000s, IVV opened one of the only public libraries in southern Zambia with the containers used to ship over operating room equipment.
IVV relies solely on charitable donations to fund this work. The organization is not affiliated with any religious group and welcomes members of any faith to serve.
$1 per day
How much people in Zimba earn by means of subsistence farming
Zambians who are blind
(11,000 more will go blind annually)
The number treated in a typical
two-week IVV mission
Since 1995, IVV has sent teams of eye surgeons and other medical specialists to Zimba. Zambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa. The people of Zimba are subsistence farmers, earning less than $1 a day.
There are about 100,000 blind people in Zambia, and more than 11,000 go blind every year. Many of these people can be cured by cataract surgery.
When IVV doctors arrive for an eye camp, hundreds of patients are waiting. The most common diagnoses are glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and blindness due to cataracts. In a typical two-week mission, IVV volunteers will treat more than 700 patients and perform nearly 100 surgeries. No patient that can be helped is turned away.
Eye surgery and treatment requires specialized resources. Most of this is not available in Zambia, so each IVV team must carry in most of the surgical supplies and medications for each mission. Acquiring these supplies in their respective home countries is an ongoing expense for these teams.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING AN EYE CAMP?
Watch the video below to see what an eye camp is really like.