Surgical Eye Expeditions

By Lynda Millner   |   October 4, 2018

SEE International promised an inspirational afternoon and they didn’t disappoint. We all gathered at the New Vic Theater for a symposium about sight, or as they said, “Seeing the Light.”

A friend of ours, the late Dr. Harry Brown, founded SEE International in 1974. Since then, volunteer ophthalmologists have restored sight to more than half a million men, women, and children. They have examined more than 4 million people worldwide and transformed the lives of countless others. As president and CEO Randal Avolio says, “Parents can return to work and provide for their families. Children can go to school and seek brighter futures. Our global network of eye care professionals will restore sight to over 40,000 people in 40 countries this year, at a cost of less than $5 per surgery.” Their goal is to restore sight to more than 100,000 men, women, and children annually by 2020.

This event was to celebrate sight week and SEE was also celebrating the opening of their new offices at 175 Cremona Drive, Suite 100 in Santa Barbara. Mark Sylvestor hosted the program. Yardi was awarded the Community Philanthropist Award for all they’ve given to SEE. Today they gave yet another check.

SEE board member Wright Watling, Mission Wealth sponsor Dannell Stuart, and CEO/president Randal Avolio at the post symposium reception

Dr, Michael Colvard spoke about the gift of generosity. Dr. Jeffrey Levenson told about his discovery of SEE and learning the surgical procedure necessary to do it in primitive conditions found in most of the countries to which they travel. Many people are plagued with cataracts. He joined SEE in 2009 and since then has traveled to several clinic locations in Peru, El Salvador, and Mexico. He is SEE Chief Medical Officer.

The symposium ended with a conversation among the doctors, including Drs. Janak Shah and Preeti Shah from India. The Shahs together have led more than 150 SEE programs – a record for SEE. Dr. Janak Shah teaches Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) to doctors interested in providing care in humanitarian settings. He has won the Eye Health Hero Award and so has his wife. Dr. Preeti Shah has been with SEE for 17 years and has traveled all over the world.

The lecture was followed by a VIP reception across the street at the Impact Hub Chapala Center with wine, goodies, and a chance to speak with the SEE people. All the doctors described the thrill of taking off the bandages of a patient who can now see for the first time or the first time in decades. If you’d like to learn how you could help, call (805) 963-3303.


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