About Combat Blindness International

Founder’s Story

For years, I traveled to India, Thailand, Indonesia and Kenya to lecture and demonstrate technologically-advanced retina and vitreous surgery at various medical institutions.


On one trip to India, as I was walking to the operating room to perform a difficult retinal surgery, I noticed a hallway filled with about 50 patients waiting to receive cataract surgery. After I had spent over four hours operating on my patient and I was walking back down that hallway, all the patients were long gone. A nurse informed me that those patients had all received cataract surgery and were recovering in the patient ward.

I marveled at how many other patients in that particular clinic waiting room had their sight issues resolved by my associates while I was doing a single surgical procedure. It was then that I realized that high-tech surgery was not the answer to the overwhelming blindness that existed around the world.

That day I discovered that blindness in developing countries is primarily caused by cataracts in adults and Vitamin A deficiency (xerophthalmia) in children. Both kinds of medical intervention at that time cost just $10 per patient. I was astounded! The idea that we could give sight to an individual so quickly and so inexpensively excited me. That compelled me to start the Combat Blindness Foundation, now Combat Blindness International.

I believe it is the responsibility of the fortunate to help the less fortunate. Our work is possible because of the generosity of friends, foundations, corporations and volunteers. The need is great, but so is the reward.

Over the years, I have met many people who are living happier and more fulfilling lives because they’ve received the gift of sight. These grandparents, parents and children inspire me to do more, and I hope that they inspire you. Together, we can be a solution in sight!

Suresh Chandra
, M.D.
 Founder and Chairman
 • Combat Blindness International

Old photo of Suresh in India
old photo of woman in India

CBI’s History

1984

Combat Blindness Foundation (CBF) established in Madison, WI.

1984

CBF sponsored first four eye camps at King George’s Medical College (KGMC), Lucknow India.

1987

Provided our 1,000th cataract surgery.

1987

First two-year Xerophthalmia Project launched in collaboration with Sitapur Eye Hospital, Sitapur, India.

1991

CBF begins collaboration with Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurani, India.

1992

CBF provides seed funding for the creation of Aurolab at Aravind Eye Hospital to produce quality intraocular lenses, providing them at cost to non-profit organizations in 120 developing countries, making quality surgery available to the poor for the first time.

1995

Provided our 25,000th cataract surgery.

1996

Dr. Suresh Chandra awarded the Outstanding Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

1997

CBF begins collaboration with L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderbad, India (LVPEI).

1997

CBF supports creation of suture factory at Aurolab at Aravind Eye Care Systems, Madurani, India increase sustainability and the availability of affordable medical supplies.

2001

CBF begins collaboration with Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH), New Delhi, India.

2001

CBF begins support of Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital, Jodhpur, India.

2002

CBF established Gujarat Project in Gujarat, India.

2003

Provided our 100,000th cataract surgery.

2004

CBF is a charter member of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global coalition, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

2005

CBF celebrates first World Sight Day.

2006

CBF expands to Africa in collaboration with the Lions Club Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya; Nkonjeni Hospital, Ulunidi, South Africa; and Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, Durban, South Africa.

2006

CBF begins collaboration with Usha Kiran Eye Hospital, Mysore, India.

2007

CBF begins to support Free Rural Eye Camps in the Philippines.

2008

CBF begins collaboration with LVPEI at the Bhubaneshwar campus in Bhubaneshwar, India.

2008

CBF expands to new cataract project in Paraguay, South America in partnership with Fundación Visión.

2008

CBF sponsored local eye camps in Gambia, Africa.

2010

Combat Blindness Foundation changed its name to become Combat Blindness International.

2010

CBI constructs the Rampur Eye Hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India in partnership with SCEH.

2011

CBI begins partnership with the Melki Hospital in Tripoli, Lebanon.

2013

Provided our 200,000th cataract surgery.

2014

CBI begins school screenings in the Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

2015

CBI begins partnership with Peek Vision.

2015

CBI travels to Myanmar on a cataract mission in partnership with the Global Community Service Foundation.

2015

CBI begins partnership in the Certified Ophthalmic Personnel program at SCEH in New Delhi, India.

2016

CBI begins construction of the first of two eye centers in Odisha, India in partnership with LVPEI.

2016

CBI begins the Bring Sight To Botswana campaign (Botswana National Eye Care Plan) with Peek Vision and the Ministry of Health of Botswana.

2017

CBI launches the International Pediatric Program in Paraguay and the United States.