The World Cataract Foundation was first formed in 1978 as the result of a challenge issued at the International Intraocular Implant Club (IIIC) for the production of inexpensive, high quality intraocular lenses for use around the world in the cure of cataract blindness. Dr. Jerre M. Freeman accepted this challenge and began to develop a universal lens and to facilitate the manufacture of intraocular lenses. A plant was opened in Deli, India which produces IOLs which sell for less than $15. Manufacturing in other nations has followed making the challenge a reality.
As it became apparent that the production of lenses played just a part in the challenge of eliminating cataract blindness, the WCF expanded its mission and programs. Volunteer surgery teams of ophthalmologists and support personnel were formed to provide free cataract surgery for the impoverished in developing countries. To date the WCF has sent teams to more than twenty-five countries, including two trips a year to Ometepec, Mexico. These teams have given the gift of sight to thousands.
Through the WCF Medical Personnel Exchange Program, the Foundation sponsors doctors fromdeveloping parts of the world for advanced ophthalmological training at the Memphis Eye andCataract Associates (MECA) and University of Tennessee, Hamilton Eye Institute.The WCF developed a special partnership with China because of the high incidence of cataractblindness in that nation. This partnership has resulted in advanced training both in the UnitedStates and China, and research advancements in the treatment of blindness.