Developing new, sustainable 

solutions for vision care

 We seek to provide innovative solutions to address eye health concerns, and have the following primary objectives:


Community engagement to drive awareness and access to eye health services. 

Working with the Departments of Health and Education at various levels to prioritise child eye health. 

Build capacity through skills development of key eye health practitioners and community health workers.  

Our Areas of operation

 We work across Southern, West, East and The Horn of Africa 


Head Office

 Durban, South Africa 

We work with national, provincial and local governments and collaborated with universities, professional bodies and eye health sector NGOs in the pursuit of our mission and vision. 

Southern Africa

Regional Offices: 

Johannesburg (South Africa). Maputo (Mozambique) and Lilongwe (Malawi)

We have supported eye health development in Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar.

East Africa

Regional Office: 

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

We have supported eye health in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. 

West Africa

Regional Office: 

Calabar, Nigeria

We have supported eye health in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Cameroon. 



The African Eye Institute contributes significantly to the development of public health and eye health through the following focus areas:

AEI Gender Equity

Developing Human Resources for Eye Health

Appropriately skilled and equitably distributed human resources for eye health are critical to the delivery of eye health services and the elimination of avoidable blindness in Africa. The healthcare cadres in these efforts need to be supported by community-based workers and teachers in order to deliver an efficient, equitable and accessible service, and we advocate for the appropriate training, recruitment and deployment of relevant cadres. These efforts are implemented through partnerships with international agencies, like-minded global eye health non-profits, government ministries of health, educational and financial institutions, universities and colleges. Legislative, regulatory and professional bodies are also engaged to ensure that healthcare professionals are able to function within the region and are delivering appropriate care to the populations they serve. 


Optometry Schools

The AEI recognises the importance of education in building capacity to tackle the causes of visual impairment. In Africa, there is a shortage of optometrists to lead this initiative due to poorly developed or non-existent local optometry training programs. The AEI, in the past, has responded to this by developing partnerships with national ministries and other stakeholders to promote optometry education at selected universities and colleges. Successful initiatives include: Mozambique (UniLurio), Eritrea (Asmara College of Health Sciences), Mali (IOTA), Malawi (Malawi College of Health Sciences, Mzuzu University), Uganda (Makerere University), Cameroon (Yaoundé School of Nursing), and Kenya (Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology).


Optometry Development Programme

The sustainable development of optometry in our countries of operation is part of our goal of workforce development. In many of these countries, optometry as a profession is still new and requires physical and educational infrastructure to see it grow. Optometry development requires the building of infrastructure and moulding of systems and curricula at tertiary institutions. It is seen as a long-term initiative but has already seen success in Malawi and Kenya. By 2017, Malawi had 35 graduates at bachelor level and 68 with diplomas, and to create sustainable systems, graduates were encouraged to pursue postgraduate studies to become lecturers. Kenya had 37 graduates in three years, of whom eight chose to pursue Masters degrees that would enable them to lecture; by 2017, a junior faculty member had been employed from that cohort. The Optometry Development Programme supports gender equality by enabling women to access this field through education and employment opportunities.


School Eye Health

Children need healthy eyes to achieve their full potential. As 80% of traditional learning is sight-based, it is essential that children have good eyesight to benefit from their education and development. We recognise that paediatric eye health needed immediate attention with regards to service delivery; education and awareness; the development of workforce and infrastructure; and policy change and guidelines, such as the development of the Standard Guidelines for Comprehensive School Eye Health, which details how to provide children with a sound eye care service delivery programme.

 Past successful initiatives include the East Africa Child Eye Health programme, launched in 2012, in which 4 624 256 children (aged 0–15 years) were screened across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


Public Health Research Programme

For the AEI to maximise its impact and ability to deliver eye healthcare to “everybody”, it is necessary to understand who and where assistance is needed. Public health research programmes were conducted in multiple countries to identify the needs of communities, drive more effective policy change, and to assist programme development. In many cases it was found that apart from eye health awareness and service delivery, compliance of patients was also problematic. Initiatives include:

Risk-benefit Analysis for Developing Primary Eye Care Services in West Africa (Ghana), Models of Health Promotion - USAID Zanzibar Research (Tanzania), Spectacle Compliance in Children (Nigeria and Malawi), and Effects of Poverty on Eye Health (South Africa).

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Gender Equity

Gender equity is a key strategy in our programmes and is enacted by developing women in the workforce and providing eye health services to a large proportion of disadvantaged women. This filters into our child eye health programmes and campaigns too, so that female children are enabled to receive and participate in a fulfilling education.

 Notably, the East Africa Child Eye Health programme achieved gender parity in the services provided – the ratio of girls to boys to receive services was 2 429 821: 2 194 436. This amounts to 52.55 % of girls to 47.45 % of boys having received services.

Old lady

Policy Change

The AEI has successfully influenced policy on the education and employment of the workforce in the public health system through the implementation of its projects and programs and through joint advocacy with local and international players. Successes include:

Development of the Standard Guidelines for Comprehensive School Eye Health in low and middle-income countries (partnership with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness – IAPB).

Increased government support in funding allocation for optometry scholarships and more positions within the public health system (Uganda).

Creation of optometry posts within the public sector in KZN and Gauteng through the Giving Sight project, supported by Standard Chartered Bank and Seeing is Believing (South Africa).

AEI Child Outreach

Our Children's Vision

The AEI and Essilor founded the “Our Children’s Vision” project, a worldwide initiative aligned with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the World Health Organization Universal Eye Health Global Action Plan 2014–2019. 

The project focused on providing eye health services to children, driving awareness, advocacy and research and creating powerful partnerships to support children’s development, particularly in their education. 

In 2017, 14 399 850 children across the globe were screened and 796 992 received spectacles or low vision devices.

Drive for sight

Community Outreach

Giving Sight to Soweto, Giving Sight to Gauteng We See: These two campaigns were run in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health, Standard Chartered Bank and the “Seeing is Believing” campaign. Major achievements of these campaigns were the integration of eye care services into primary healthcare infrastructure; allowing 404 721 people to be screened; the training of 877 existing professionals; the employment of 6 optometrists; and the establishment/upgrade of 10 eye care sites.


Gauteng Child Eye Health 

The AEI identified a need to start a Child Eye Health project at public clinics in Gauteng, where many children from impoverished families were falling through the cracks because of little or no access to eye health services. Putting food on the table for survival is often the priority in these families, and eye care and glasses are considered unaffordable.

 Funding from Standard Chartered Bank made it possible for AEI to initiate the Gauteng Child Eye Health project, in February 2019. When this project concluded in November 2020, 271 940 children were screened, 28 860 children were examined by eye health practitioners, and 2 317 children received spectacles.

Outreach Road trip

Eye Health Awareness

Blindness can be prevented by timely diagnosis and early intervention, but a lack of public awareness about the importance of eye health and of regular eye tests to detect ocular and systemic conditions has resulted in unnecessary sight loss. The African Eye Institute recognises the importance of awareness drives and screening programmes to reach children and communities that for various reasons do not have access to eye health information and services. Knowledge about eye care and available services are shared through public talks, school vision screenings, community events and through the media.


NOREC EYE-FX (Eye Education Foreign Exchanges)

Funded by the Norwegian Government 

This foreign exchange project aims to build capacity in optometric education in the context of eye health and global blindness prevention. This involved a series of professional exchanges to develop faculties for all partners, strengthen education systems, and affect change in global eye health. Connected through a partnership and mission, the AEI and the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) joined the University of South-Eastern Norway to form the EYEFX project. This foreign exchange project will support a passion for optometry and eye health across borders through an exchange of staff, culture, knowledge, and language. The partners are also keen to implement schemes that will open similar opportunities for the next generation of optometrists.

African Eye Institute final draft

Our Next Programme

Check back for more on our next life-changing programme.

We have impacted the lives of young and old across Africa