Eye Corps’ is a 501(c)(3) and a registered non-profit in Tanzania with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Tanzania. Our mission is to reduce cataract blindness by supporting in-country cataract services.
Jim Sowell is a man with a vision. A vision of a better world in which each man cares for his neighbor. Like finding water in Africa, and fighting poverty through CitySquare in Dallas,-Jim Sowell realized that cataract blindness was an issue he could address.
There are over 20 million people worldwide suffering from cataract blindness. Traditionally, well-intentioned surgeons traveled to Africa to perform weeklong cataract camps. People were helped, however, when the surgeons left with their supplies, equipment, and expertise no more progress could be made.
Thus addressing this problem, which is fixable but steals quality of life from so many, began with a simple question. Why is there so much cataract blindness in the world when it is an easy problem to fix? The answer was not so simple. There are many organizations that are focused on going to areas in need and performing surgeries. More, however, needed to be done. Jim’s idea was based on the philosophy that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. He believed that the same concept could be applied to blindness.
Jim created a new plan which would create cataract surgeons in developing countries who are subsidized, trained, and equipped. They could perform surgeries for profit, but they must also dedicate a significant portion of their time to serving those without resources. By empowering local surgeons, Sowell realized that he could help create physicians that would be working for years to come on the project. In lieu of treating 100 people on a charity trip to Africa, Sowell’s plan allows Tanzanians or local doctors to treat patients every day of the year- not a total of 100 surgeries in one month but 100 surgeries each and every month.
The key elements of the plan were; 1) hire a dedicated and selfless surgeon to lead the effort- and Dr. Susan MacDonald appeared. Susan is a superior surgeon and a faculty member at Tufts. She has significant global outreach experience and a passion for helping others; 2) establish a relationship with the local government; 3) identify and train local surgeons; and 4) provide those surgeons with the training, equipment, and facilities to eradicate cataract blindness in their community.
Not only does the plan eradicate cataract blindness, but it also empowers Tanzanians to solve their blindness problem. This empowerment creates local leaders who help guide their villages and towns and helps to build a community. Eradication of cataract blindness can only be accomplished if local people are working to solve the problem in their own community. Jim’s plan enables them to do that by providing training, equipment, and supplies. Sowell realized he could perhaps change the mindset of a community and empower the local doctors to solve their own problems. This is a plan which truly touches the hearts and minds of local communities; a solution that has a thousand ripples of the benefit flowing in all directions.
How can you help- donate! For $100,000 we can identify a surgeon, train him or her, equip and modernize a facility and subsidize that surgeon for years so he or she can change that community. You will be giving sight to 1000 people a year for a very long time. That is something you can be proud of!
Come on board- let’s change the world together!
Dr. Susan MacDonald is an Associate Clinical Professor at Tufts School of Medicine. She is president of Eye Corps, Inc., a nonprofit focusing on Cataract Blindness. She received her medical degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and completed her Internal Medical Residency at Brown University. She then went on to complete a residency in Ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center In 2018. She left private practice to focus full time on Cataract Blindness, leading a new foundation called Eye Corps, Inc. Eye Corps’ focus is helping cataract surgeons in resource-poor areas by providing mentorship, equipment loans, and staff training. Eye Corps is built on collaboration and coordination between NGOs. We are all part of the solution.
Roger Furlong, MD is an ophthalmologist practicing for the past 30 years at Rocky Mountain Eye Center in Missoula, MT, specializing in glaucoma, cataract and intraocular lens problems. Dr. Furlong is Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, and is on the Board of Directors for Eye Corps. He and wife Heidi travel to Africa and globally with Eye Corps and the Moran Eye Center outreach teams, performing sight-restoring surgery and training local physicians to improve care in underserved regions. In his spare time, while he likes to believe he is a terror to the fish of the region, they are largely indifferent.
Dr. Japhet Bright Boniface
Dr. Japhet Bright Boniface (MDRU, MMed Ophthalmology TZ) graduated with a Master of Medicine in Ophthalmology in October 2013 from Tumaini University KCM Collage. Japhet has working experience in the field of ophthalmology for over 7 years, working in a limited resources setting, while managing to help the community. Japhet has been volunteering in different eye camps and outreaches in Tanzania for many years, managing to do so with the encouragement and support of good friends such as Eye Corps. All with the like-mind of wanting to help a community in need of restoring vision due to avoidable blindness.
Jane Durcan, MD is an adjunct professor of ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. She received her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed an ophthalmology residency at the University of Utah. Additional training included fellowships in neuro-ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, and glaucoma fellowships at the Moran Eye Center with Alan Crandall, MD and at the Devers Eye Institute with Mike Van Buskirk, MD. She did an additional 3 months of glaucoma training at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London England. She was an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center from 1987 to 2001, moving on to private practice at the Spokane Eye Clinic in Spokane Washington until 2015. She is thrilled to be able to continue to fulfill her passion for providing eye care to those in need and also helping to train the next generation of ophthalmologists through her current work with Eye Corps.
Lisa is a registered nurse with 28 years of ophthalmic nursing in preoperative, recovery and circulating areas for ophthalmic surgeries and has extensive ophthalmic outreach experience with Eye Corps and Moran Global Outreach. She is the Lead Registered Nurse on all Eye Corps trips. She is involved in logistics and planning of outreach trips, as well as nursing education. She is currently employed by the University of Utah Moran Eye Center in an ophthalmic registered nurse capacity.
Heidi is the logistics expert. She has been volunteering with eye camps for 14 years. Heidi oversees patient registration and identification which is critical to our patients receiving the correct surgery. This is our triage and logistics expert, who keeps the team organized, safe and on time. Heidi would like to send thanks to all of the special people who welcome us into their homes and hearts.
Karen Bachman is a Certified Ophthalmic technician, a Registered ophthalmic ultrasound technician, along with being a certified ophthalmic executive. Karen has had the privilege of working with renowned physicians at reputable eye centers for the past 30 years. Ophthalmology is her passion and states she is honored to be a part of Eye Corps and provide eye care around the world to those in need.