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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

SEE International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Development

Mission: SEE International is committed to providing essential vision care by restoring sight to the blind and visually impaired, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay.

Results: In 2019, SEE coordinated more than 200 vision care programs in over 40 countries worldwide. Our volunteer ophthalmologists performed over 50,000 sight-restoring surgeries, free of charge to the patient, and screened more than 80,000 men, women, and children. Since 1974, SEE has provided care for over 5 million patients, and restored sight to more than half a million people.

Target demographics: blind and visually impaired individuals regain their sight, and thus reclaim their independence and livelihood.

Direct beneficiaries per year: more than 80,000 people, of which over 50,000 received free sight-restoring surgery.

Geographic areas served: more than 40 countries worldwide, including the U.S.

Programs: sight-restoring surgeries and vision care worldwide.

Community Stories

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SEE is an exceptional organization that supports efforts to eradicate global blindness. They provide crucial logistical and material support, backed by donations and industry, to facilitate collaboration between US based surgeons and less developed health care systems globally. SEE also has an important training component, teaching surgeons affordable and sustainable techniques which are crucial in supporting efforts to eliminate cataract blindness. They are responsible for lifting an immense burden of blindness from the planet and continue to due so. Their leadership and organizational culture are commendable.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am doing eye camps with SEE International since 1999 in different countries. With their help, I have been able to bring the sight back to many people that can turn into useful members of their families and communities again. In the areas of the world SEE International works, it has a huge impact in the lives of the needed people.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This outreach eye hospital charity provides the life-changing gift of sight to help to the poorest, neediest of people in rural Rajasthan. This area of the world has a very high incidence of eye disease both infections such as Trachoma and also cataracts. Without this outreach care from this charity, thousands of people, including children, would suffer blindness for the rest of their lives.
I have volunteered on two occasions for two weeks at a time to provide anaesthesia for the eye surgeons delivering this care. The outreach clinics take place during the day. Medical treatment is dispensed and the patients identified as requiring surgery are brought back by bus from the village outreach clinic late afternoon. Surgery takes place in the evening from 5pm until 12midnight. The bus will then take the patients back to their village the next day before collecting the patients identified in the following days clinic. This system not only provides the healthcare for all patients attending the outreach clinic but also provides the transport back to the hospital which these people can not afford. All this is possible thanks to the support of various charities together with the surgeons and nursing staff volunteering their time.

Sanjiv D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been working closely with SEE International since 1994 - that’s about 36 years !

The collaboration has been extremely fruitful in more ways than one. SEEI sends volunteer eye surgeons who visit our hospital and provide free eye surgery to the poorest of the poor. Some surgeons stay for extended periods of 6 - 8 weeks and lend a much needed helping hand in our work. So we accomplish a lot of surgical work which we would otherwise not be able to do alone on our own. This way, SEE International has a big impact in eliminating blindness amongst the aged and the indigent people of the Thar Desert region of India.

The agency also provides consumable items [like intra-ocular lenses] for the surgery which permits us to perform hundreds of world class free surgeries every year. So it’s not unusual that during the visit of a SEEI volunteer we can accomplish upto 600 free surgeries in a month’s duration with impeccable visual outcomes.

Another very significant impact that SEE International has had in our work is the sharing of knowledge with eye care professionals of our town and establishing new techniques. To give some examples: phacoemulsification was first demonstrated to us via live surgery by SEEI volunteer Dr Maskeen Sabharwal in 1994, Dr Thomas Tayeri established glaucoma shunt surgery at our hospital in 2014, and more recently in 2019 volunteer Dr Lauren Shatz showed us how to perform advanced DSEK surgery and also held a skills transfer workshop and wet lab, live surgery and CME lectures on the subject for all surgeons of our town to learn and perform.

Over the years our collaboration with SEEI has been extremely productive and has changed the lives of thousands of aged and indigent blind patients from that of helplessness and self-pity to that of joy, happiness and optimism by restoring their vision. SEEI has also had a tremendous impact on enhancing the skills of local ophthalmologists.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SEE International is an excellent non profit, that works to eliminate unnecessary cataract blindness in the developing world, partnering with volunteer eye surgeons, host eye surgeons, industry, charitable organizations, and governments

iLeven5

Board Member

Rating: 5

SEE restores sight to poor and blind people around the world by providing the material , logistic and educational support necessary for volunteer doctors to deliver sight restoring cataract surgery. At a cost of roughly $25 per case, volunteer American doctors team with host physicians from resource poor countries to restore the sight to people in need. As an American ophthalmologist I've participated in about 20 of these trips, and I've personally brought sight to perhaps 2,000 blind people in desperate need. SEE provides the infrastructure that makes it all possible.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Most of that blindness is concentrated among the world's poorest people, who are unable to afford curative surgery. That surgery has recently been reinvented, so that it can now be done, in about 10 minutes, for less than $25 per case. SEE International coordinates over 200 trips a year to over 50 countries, enabling American ophthalmologists to work alongside host doctors for the benefit of their poor and blind patients. SEE provides materials and consumables that host doctors need, and teaches the new, low cost technique worldwide. They've restored the sight to over half a million people; with help, they can reach so many more.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first started donating to SEE perhaps over two decades ago, following a very compelling article I read on the organization in Forbes magazine. I've donated for many years, and have served on the Board of Directors for the last 5 years. We have a strong board with a very strong membership. The organization receives consistent praise for its' work and efficiency. I've had the privilege of working with two of the expeditions to Bolivia. The physicians, RN, and clinic staff all volunteer their time, and pay all of their expenses on these trips. What greater and more direct impact: someone is blink and returns the next day with vision.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been a long time financial supporter; perhaps 25 years now. Over 500,000 surgeries restoring sight to the blind. All volunteer medical care by physicians who donate their time and money to serve those in need in second and third world countries. I've been privileged to assist as a layman on expeditions for the last three years in Bolivia. Patients arrive blind and sight is restored the next day, liberating the patient and the spouse/sibling/child who care for them.

Donor

Rating: 5

Wonderful charity restoring sight all over the world.
As the eye surgeons donate their time and pay for their own travel, the majority of funds raised go towards eliminating blindness.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SEE International is a wonderful organization! I cannot say enough good things about the beautiful work this group does to bring sight and health and hope to tens of thousands of people around the globe every year. I’ve been a volunteer surgeon on seven cataract surgery humanitarian trips sponsored by SEE International and have witnessed firsthand the life-changing impact SEE brings to individuals and families throughout the world.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is difficult to imagine a charitable organization with greater direct impact on individual lives and families than SEE International. This talented humanity-minded team supports, sponsors and trains hundreds of volunteer surgeons and eye professionals who restore sight to tens of thousands of people world-wide every year. As an ophthalmologist who's served on 6 SEE International supported eye surgery trips, I can attest to the amazing work that SEE International and its volunteers perform every day.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The dedication of all the volunteers is very uplifting. And every one of them is so appreciative of the staff of SEE International. Also, the management and staff of SEE has been exemplary in managing and fulfilling the world wide mission of the organization both before the pandemic and through the shutdown caused by the pandemic.

On the donor side, I have appreciated their communication and reporting of activities. All of those reports are honest and uplifting.

Greg B.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son introduced me to SEE International soon after he started working for them and I have been a supporter since. I remembered how cataract surgery changed my mother's life and to know that there were doctors providing the same life-changing procedure to others worldwide was heart-warming and inspiring. I was also surprised to find out that beyond its worldwide mission, See International provided its services in our community. I teach ESL at the Wake Center and every semester I distribute flyers to my students to let them know of their services. I take my hat off to all who work for this wonderful organization and especially to the doctors who volunteer their time and services around the world.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Outstanding staff dedicated to the mission of SEE International.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

SEE International is changing people’s lives by restoring a precious sense - sight! All over the world, the work that SEE does is giving people their lives back by performing the necessary surgeries that restores their vision. Being able to see again means they can contribute to their families, go back to school, earn a living and just be able to be whole again. As an active board member for the past several years, I have watched SEE grow significantly in its abilities to help multiple thousands of people annually regain their sight. No other mission is more rewarding than that! I am proud to be a part of something that does so much to help people’s lives all over the world....

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have served on the Board for SEE International since 2011. Since that time the organization has performed thousands of cataract surgeries across the globe helping not only those patients, but more importantly their entire families. The aspect of SEE International many people don't realize is the work they locally here in the United States. They provide all eyecare services from routine eye exams all the way to complicated eye surgeries. I am proud to be part of this organization.

1 Yatzie Ponce A.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I go to work every day knowing that the decisions that are made by the SEE team create a huge impact in many lives around the world. We help change the lives of not only the patient, but also those closest to them. To be part of that is priceless.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

When I look at non-profits to support, I look for several things:
1. How long have they been around, and are they sustainable? I want to make sure that my support goes to a non profit that will be around for years. SEE International has been around for over 40 years. I believe that history, and their current outreach tells me that they will be around for many more years.
2. Are they effective? Bang for the buck, I believe that restoring vision is the best investment. It not only gives freedom to the blind person, it also gives freedom to the caretaker.
3. Are they helping people locally as well as internationally? SEE Internationally does both.
4. Are they helping to educate? SEE International trains doctors around the world, as well as educating patients.

I have been a long time fan of the work that SEE International does, and I have introduced them to many of my friends and family. I highly encourage anyone interested in the organization to get involved and be a part of restoring vision to needy people!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SEE has helped me locally in getting blind patients with cataracts the surgery they need to see again. Internationally they have a great reputation in collaborating with doctors overseas, and in surgical education. Great organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SEE continues to grow serving blind people worldwide. The value proposition of donating $25 to enable a blind person to see and enabling their caregivers freedom from caring for that person forever is one that can't be matched!

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Board Member

Rating: 5

SEE has been performing cataract surgery for 35 years and restored sight at no cost for more than 370,000 disadvantaged people in third world countries. Our operational cost is a mere $108 per surgery with a value proposition that is one of the greatest of all not for profit organizations. Last year we freed over 14,000 people from blindness, up 40% from the previous year. There are over 600 dedicated surgeons donating their services for this noble cause serving over 100 location per year. It would be wonderful if all people could look beyond themselves and their pettiness and passionately serve humanity as this organization has successfully done for decades.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

SEE is an excellent organization that is transforming lives all around the world. I can't imagine living without my sight, but I'm one of the fortunate ones who can get treatment if I need it. What SEE does in bringing this sight-restoring care to people in need is beyond inspiring. I am proud to support that work.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have suffered with corneal issues and have had 3 rounds of transplants. Without access to care, I would have little hope. I love how SEE helps those in need, around the world. Also, SEE is very efficient with how it uses it funding, to help as many as it can.

JN LaJolla CA

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

It was my great pleasure to pitch a story about SEE International to Voice of America, which resulted in a home run! On April 13, 2018, Randal Avolio, SEE President/CEO, had an in-studio interview with Hayde Fitzpatrick of VOA News in Washington, D.C. The interview, along with video footage and digital images from past SEE expeditions, was woven together to make a 4 minute segment. It aired on April 25, 2018 throughout Africa.

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Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a SEE International donor for 3 years. I am not aware of any other organization where a $100 donation is able to permanently impact an individual, family and community. It is impossible to put a value on the ripple effect of restoring sight to one person---whether s/he is 4 or 94 years old.

In July 2015, I volunteered on a SEE expedition to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I experienced first-hand the tremendous need for intervention regarding curable blindness, as well as the patients' joy after their eye patches were removed. They were signing and dancing! During this particular expedition, 107 Congolese, including children and adults, had their sight restored.

I have been on medical mission trips to developing countries with other organizations. SEE far exceeded my exception. I look forward to future SEE expeditions.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Few charitable organizations provide such a gratifying and quantifiable return on your donation. Donating to SEE International is just smart giving, plain and simple. Blindness is most prevalent in developing countries and-- it likely goes without saying-- causes and contributes to lack of opportunity, and poverty. SEE International performs thousands of eye surgeries every year in developing countries around the world. Because of all their great partnerships, and awesome volunteer surgeons, the cost per surgery ends up being less than $100. Knowing that even a modest contribution could mean someone, somewhere, will see again? -- Not to be cliché but, let's face it, that's priceless.

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

SEE International is an amazing organization. Not only have they helped cure blindness for over a half million people, but have done so for only $100 per surgery. The physicians take time from their lucrative practices and pay for their own travel expenses. SEE provides supplies and support to make this mission possible. Being blind in a developing country is not only a handicap, it prevents people from providing for themselves and can ultimately shorten their lifespans. SEE International not only brings the gift of sight, but ultimately the gift of life to thousands worldwide. Their overhead is very low, so most of my donation goes directly to help those in need. Truly a great non profit!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at SEE for the past two years, and while I can not comment on how this organization operated in the past, I can say that it is currently a model professional environment staffed by competent and compassionate individuals. It is easy to see how this organization is highly thought of in the local community and by its donors - there is a genuine warmth that is undeniable and inspiring. One does not often find efficiency and compassion in the same organization, but SEE proves the welcome exception to that generality.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in our world. Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International Inc. is among leading organizations addressing this global epidemic. Their unique model in involving local Surgeons, volunteer Surgeons, volunteers, and industry donors allows a collaborative effort to solve the crisis. I work in the Ophthalmic surgical industry and am thrilled to see their wide-reaching clinics and global efforts gaining more traction. Their new leadership is very promising and I look forward to continuing to support them.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a four figure donor for at least five years. I have watched the organization take a giant leap forward just in the past 18 months with new, excellent, and very warm and engaging leadership and a much more sophisticated board of directors stepping on. It's exciting to see and I know that the remarkable work that they do will not only continue so positively (as it always has) but will expand with vigor now. This organization is going to capture our interest and be like hanging on to a tiger's tail! I couldn't recommend them more to other donors. They have always been extremely cost efficient and remarkably diligent about their work in the world. This is a winning ticket!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

As an experienced donor I appreciate the level of financial detail and accountability SEE International was able to provide. I feel every dollar I donated to Surgical Eye Expeditions resulted in a positive impact for those in need. Thank you for providing sight to those in need and vision for us all.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve enjoyed helping raise funds for SEE International for the last 5 years and will continue to do so. For just over $100 they restore sight to people who may have never had the opportunity to see again. This not only provides the patient the gift of sight but also allows 2-3 other family members/caretakers to enjoy their lives.

So, for a little over $100, 3-4 people’s lives are changed forever!

I’m excited to hear about the new management team and look forward to their continued growth.

Keep up the good work SEE International!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I am familiar with SEE International's local Santa Barbara Vision Care Program. It's truly a fantastic program that addresses a real need in the community. They help uninsured community members receive free eye exams, eyeglasses, and even eye surgery. And then in addition to this, they work internationally in developing countries facilitating surgeries! Really amazing stuff. Great work, SEE!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SEE International stands apart from other nonprofits that I have worked with, including those that have greater budgets and name recognition. I felt compelled to share my viewpoint, because I know that SEE has recently undergone very positive and intentional changes to put the organization back on track. The staff are truly dedicated, capable and aware of their responsibility to the surgeons and people on the ground.

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 1

I used to donate every Dec to SEE. I stopped three years ago and can't get my name off their lists, even though I called twice.

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

SEE International is a perfect model of how NOT to run a nonprofit. The management is truly terrible. There are many other organizations much more capable of addressing cataract blindness. The staff turnover is breathtakingly fast. And for good reason.

1

Donor

Rating: 1

SEE used to be a wonderful organization but with time the Founder has squandered the funds so carefully raised during its heyday in the 90s. Multiple employee lawsuits and inquiries by the attorney general contributed to its demise

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a donor to this wonderful 35-yr old organization and, with a history of many eye surgeries myself, I can share in the amazement at seeing again that they have given to so many of the world's most deserving. It's one of the most important organizations I have the honor of supporting. The physicians who travel at their own expense, volunteer their time and dedicate their skills to making this important difference in the lives of more than 10,000 people a year, much less the dedicated staff to put it all together, make this organization's work a joy to support.