Its Focus: Improving Ophthalmology Practice in Low-Resource and Underserved Countries
San Francisco, CA. March 16, 2021 — The newly incorporated Ophthalmology Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports ophthalmic education in order to preserve and restore vision for people of all nations, is laying the groundwork to improve global eye care and ophthalmic practice, particularly in low-resource and underserved countries.
Led by a global board of ophthalmologists, ophthalmology professors, and industry leaders, the San Francisco-based foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for ophthalmic education around the world.
“The science and practice of ophthalmology have become increasingly sophisticated, but countries designated by the World Health Organization as low-resource or underserved may not have the resources to benefit from these advances,” said David Pyott, MDhc, President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “The Ophthalmology Foundation’s goal is to offer educational access across the globe, increasing training opportunities in order to develop doctors who are equipped to provide the highest caliber of care for patients whose vision is threatened or compromised, regardless of geography or income levels.”
The Ophthalmology Foundation is the successor organization of the International Council of Ophthalmology Foundation (ICOF). It was born out of a mutual decision by ICOF and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) to pursue separate philanthropic programming.
The new Foundation will accomplish its mission by providing educational programs and fellowships for ophthalmologists based on original concepts and content. The organization will serve as a resource to ophthalmic educators by incorporating the latest thinking on how to deliver education virtually and, when possible, in person.
Educational opportunities provided by the Foundation will include a 12-month online series on ophthalmic teaching skills; continuing education and professional development efforts; a global network of mentors with expertise in specific competencies; tools designed to assist faculty members in assessing trainees; and the new Ophthalmic Education Consortium, a collaboration between ophthalmic educators and national or supranational ophthalmic societies.
In addition, the Foundation is supporting, and working closely with, the International Ophthalmological Fellowship Foundation e.V. (IOFF) in Germany to continue international fellowships for ophthalmologists from low-resource and underserved countries as 3-, 6-, and 12-month programs, including the Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship.
Driving the Foundation’s efforts is a Board of Directors composed of more than 30 distinguished ophthalmology experts from North America, Latin America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and Africa. Heading up the board, in addition to Dr. Pyott, are Foundation Vice President James V. Mazzo and Secretary-Treasurer Bruce E. Spivey, MD, MEd, MS.
The Foundation staff include Director Christine Graham of San Francisco; Education Program Manager Ashley Elliott of Vallejo, California; and IOFF Executive for Fellowships Cordula Gabel-Obermaier of Ebersberg, Germany.
Dr. Pyott was the Chief Executive Officer of Allergan, Inc., from 1998 until 2015. He serves as President of the Advisory Board of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and as a member of the Board of the Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation.
Mr. Mazzo, a leader with 42 years in the ophthalmic industry, most recently served as President of Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc., where he continues to serve as an Advisor. He is also an Advisor at Bain Capital, Executive Chairman of the retinal implant company Neurotech, and a member of the Board of the Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation. Previously, he was CEO of both Advanced Medical Optics and Avellino and Executive Vice President of Abbott’s ophthalmology business.
Dr. Spivey, of San Francisco, is past president of the ICO, past secretary general of the ICO, and former ICOF secretary-treasurer. An ophthalmologist and medical educator, he was the founding Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He has been President of numerous organizations, including the American Board of Medical Specialties, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and the American Ophthalmological Society.
About the Ophthalmology Foundation
Incorporated in Delaware in 2020, the Ophthalmology Foundation is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that supports ophthalmic education internationally in order to preserve and restore vision for people worldwide. The Foundation accomplishes this mission through a host of original educational programs and fellowships designed to improve global eye care and advance scientific ophthalmology, ultimately benefiting the global practice of the specialty and improving the quality of care for patients.