The concept for 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. These teams have given the gift of sight to thousands.
Through the WCF Medical Personnel Exchange Program, the Foundation sponsors doctors from developing parts of the world for advanced ophthalmological training at Memphis Eye and Cataract Associates (MECA) and the University of Tennessee Hamilton Eye Institute.