Foresight was born as a result of the formation of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in 1975.
The late Sir John Wilson, among others, began to draw the international community’s attention to the problem of global blindness of which, at the time, 80% was found in the developing world. These efforts led to the formation of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) on January 1, 1975, with Sir John Wilson as the Founder President. The founding members were the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO).
IAPB was established as a coordinating, umbrella organisation to lead an international effort in mobilising resources for blindness prevention activities. It encouraged colleagues in developing countries to contact colleagues abroad for assistance in tackling the problem.
A letter was sent to the College of Ophthalmologists, Australia by ophthalmologist and freedom fighter Rabiul Husain, asking for help curing over a million people blind with cataract, in Bangladesh.
As a member of the College of Ophthalmologists Professor Frank Billson AO was encouraged to respond to the letter. His response was to partner with Major General Paul Cullen AC and establish Foresight Australia the first avoidable blindness NGO in Australia.
Foresight organised and led teams of surgeons from Australia to perform sight saving surgery in Bangladesh. It helped fund and build the not-for-profit Chittagong Eye Hospital and its Institute of Community Ophthalmology. It developed the first recognised Diploma of Community Ophthalmology for the University of Chittagong and provided surgical skills transfer in the eye hospital. This has now extended to a sustainable program in eight rural eye hospitals.
It identified a disturbing level and risk of corneal blindness in children, due to Vitamin A deficiency. It responded by creating Under Five’s Clinics for mothers and children to ensure early intervention and prevention of a condition for which there is no ‘cure’.
Foresight has gone on to develop sight saving programs in Timor-Leste, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines.
Foresight is a key member of the Australia Consortium for ‘Vision 2020 — Right to Sight’.