The AiPB was established in 1976 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness through programs designed to PROTECT, PRESERVE, and RESTORE the Gift of Sight. AiPb Founding Board members were Dr. Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist, Dr. Alfred Cannon, a psychiatrist and community organizer and Dr. Aaron Ifekwunigwe a pediatrician and human rights advocate.
The AiPb is founded on the principle that EYESIGHT IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT and that PRIMARY EYE CARE must be a component of Basic Health Services provided free if necessary for all humankind.
The AiPb was founded as a non-profit organization in 1976 and dedicated to the prevention of blindness through education, community service, research and compassionate eye care services. The original founders consisted of an ophthalmologist (Dr. Patricia Bath), a pediatrician (Dr. Aaron Ifekwunigwe) and a psychiatrist (Dr. Alfred Cannon). The disciplines of Community Ophthalmology and Primary Eye Care emerged as a direct consequence of the activities of its founders in concert with other experts both national and international.
In 1979-1980, the AiPb sponsored a student from Nigeria to study Community Ophthalmology. The student earned her certificate as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant from the new program established at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute by Dr. Patricia Bath. The student returned to her community in Nigeria and organized a blindness prevention program which emphasized compliance in glaucoma management. Single handedly she organized a community medial drama show which acted out the dangers of failure to keep appointments and failure to follow therapeutic regimens. She later commented that the play was a huge success because she involved members of the village community who, in some instances, had lost eyesight due to poor compliance.
In 1980-81 the AiPb supported a student from an economically disadvantaged Los Angeles community to study as an ophthalmic assistant. He completed his studies and currently volunteers in local blindness prevention programs in the medically underserved and economically impoverished areas of Los Angeles. He went on to enjoy a three-decade career as chief technologist at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute.
Educational materials consisting of Video cassettes, slides, literature and similar material have been provided to ophthalmologists in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Pakistan since inception in 1976.
In addition, surgical materials, eye drops, eye charts and eyeglasses have been donated. A GRIESHABER VITRECTOMY UNIT WAS DONATED TO THE MOBILE EYE CLINIC OF PAKISTAN in 1980.
In 1981 a BARRAQUER motorized trephine set to enable corneal transplants was donated to the Eye Clinic of Mercy Hospital in Abak, Nigeria in 1981. For the fiscal year 1980/1981 the AiPb donated ophthalmic surgical equipment valued at approximately $40,000.00 US dollars. The AiPb has extended its global outreach through collaborations with NGOs, Universities and Medical centers.
Board members Bath, Cannon and Ifekwunigwe traveled to South America, Africa, Asia and Europe as consultants (USAID, WHO) for numerous health related programs through the 1990’s. Members of the AiPb have also participated as lecturers, and advisors to regional, national and international bodies such as IAPB, Orbis, USAID, USA Peace Corps, and many others.
Volunteers at the domestic level have participated in community health fairs, pre-school vision screenings, glaucoma screenings and consumer eye health education.
Since inception in 1976, the AiPb has worked with collaborators worldwide to promote blindness prevention through its strategy of Community Ophthalmology and Primary Eye care. Board members have been spokespersons for community ophthalmology the fundamental strategy for blindness prevention whether in 3rd and 4th world impoverished areas or in the urban forgotten ghettos which are an unfortunate collateral result of the successes and excesses of the economic and health disparities of the 1st and 2nd world nations.
Eradication of all preventable blindness by the year 2020. Insure all children have all visual needs met, including eyeglasses. Assist blind children to achieve their best by special educational resources. Establish the World Eye Institute for the research and treatment of blinding eye diseases, with clinic facilities open to the blind of all nations on an equal basis.