Fair   57.0F  |  Forecast »

That The Blind Shall See

Vero Beach billionaire Albert Ueltschi, who died last October, spent his final years battling Third World blindness. Now, his son Jim is continuing the legacy.

A child born with cataracts in Togo prepares for a simple surgery to replace his cloudy lenses with new ones. In Africa, 50 percent of blind children die within a few years because they rely on sighted caregivers who are also likely struggling.

A child born with cataracts in Togo prepares for a simple surgery to replace his cloudy lenses with new ones. In Africa, 50 percent of blind children die within a few years because they rely on sighted caregivers who are also likely struggling.

Albert Ueltschi spent his life believing that the “best safety device in any aircraft is a well-trained pilot.” That's the motto of FlightSafety International, the world's most successful commercial pilot-training organization he founded in 1951. Before his death on Oct. 18, 2012, at the age of 95, the Vero Beach resident had an equally grand vision to apply tried-and-true training techniques to medicine so that every blind child and adult could have the miracle of sight regardless of where they live or how poor they might be.

By incorporating state-of-the-art simulators and performance-based training methods, the self-made billionaire and a group of partners, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, have spent the past few years setting up training programs to serve 80 of the poorest countries. The goal is to train 30,000 people (mostly women) to safely perform a low-cost cataract operation called “manual small incision cataract surgery” (MSICS), and to raise financial resources to compensate them for performing those procedures.

Read the entire article in the January 2013 issue