Friends of Retina India (FRI) is a registered non-profit in California.
India has the largest number of blind people anywhere in the world. With one in every 4 blind people living in India, the governmental & other organizations face a monumental task to reduce this disparity. A significant portion of this blindness is caused by causes such as cataract, but we are seeing a major increase in retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy due to the changing food habits and increasing prevalence of life-style diseases such as diabetes & blood pressure.
India has about 6 doctors per 10,000 in urban areas; this number goes down to about 0.6 per 10,000 in rural countryside where about 70% of the Indian population lives. Only a handful of these doctors are retinal specialists, and majority of them choose to locate in urbanized cities. With lack of expertise available to significant number of population, the afflicted either do not seek care at all, or seek it when it is too late. Retinal diseases require increased awareness as well as early diagnosis for best outcomes. Also, those who do practice retinal care in these areas lack the right equipment due to its significant costs.
To alleviate the increasing number of people with retinal blindness, we are focused on two major programs; (1) Providing short term fellowships to Indian doctors in the US for them to learn the latest in retinal care & research, which they can then provide to their community on return to India, and (2) Providing instrumentation to nonprofit hospitals in rural areas of India.
This fundraiser will help us raise $10,000 with the help of matching grant from a benevolent donor, who has promised us a donation of $5,000 if we are able to raise the other $5,000.
With this money, we will invite one doctor from India to come to the US for a short term fellowship in a major eye hospital. During this fellowship, the doctor (the trainee) will work with an internationally renowned retinal specialist (the mentor), observe the mentor in the clinic and in the operating room, as well as perform research under the direction of the mentor. This experience will help him/her offer the latest treatment to his/her patients, on their return to India, as well as research to find solutions to the problems that face patients in India.