Founder - Dr. Lucy Mathen

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Lucy Mathen retrained as a doctor after 16 years as a journalist. This life-changing decision was taken whilst interviewing a medic in Afghanistan in 1988. She became an eye specialist.

In 2000 she took time off from her NHS job in the UK to travel the breadth of rural north India before deciding to focus on Bihar, India’s poorest state.

‘I found hospital after hospital with expensive equipment lying idle, unable to offer cataract surgery in areas in which cataract blindness was endemic. Why? Because of a lack of eye surgeons. It was tragic. But I could do something about it. I could provide those missing surgeons. Mindful of the dire poverty of people in Bihar, we have a no office, no salaries, no expenses policy.’

‘18 years down the line, over 450,000 people have had their sight restored and countless others prevented from going blind. The best news is that the surgery is now performed by local doctors supported by skilled ophthalmic assistants - 52,000 cataract operations last year alone. Our eye specialists continue to train on site in rural and small town settings so that every hospital is able to offer the full range of ophthalmic services in their areas. These hospitals, run for and by local people, are readying themselves to be self-sufficient and sustainable in a few years time.’

‘After nearly 20 years of working in a very hands-on role in Bihar I know that, more than anything else, it is respect for local initiative and freedom from time-sapping bureaucracy that allows local teams to flourish. It is about people.’

In the Foreword to Lucy Mathen’s new book - Outgrowing the Big - Simon Barnes wrote “humanity is the super-power that has allowed Second Sight to punch way above its weight in 18 years.’

Outgrowing the Big - available NOW by sending an email to lucymathen@secondsight.org.uk.