The Fred Hollows Foundation have announced that Fred Hollows laboratories in Nepal and Eritrea have now manufactured over four million intraocular lenses (IOLs) for use in low cost cataract surgery.

The laboratories, which are now independently owned and run, were a dream of Fred Hollows who wasn’t alive to see the laboratories open in 1994.  Fred was committed to raising money needed to build high-tech intraocular lens manufacturing laboratories and the establishment of eye care infrastructure with modern operating facilities.

Brian Doolan, CEO of The Foundation, was astounded at the results. “Fred died before just one of the lenses came out of Nepal and Eritrea. To think that four million of these tiny miracles have been produced is just amazing” he says.

“When Fred was alive, these IOLs used to cost over $150 and this was of course too much for most people in developing countries,” Doolan said.

“Fred said ‘Why don’t we make them?’ So The Foundation helped set up these two laboratories and now they’re manufacturing lenses for around $5 for export all over the world.”

Today, the Fred Hollows IOL Laboratory in Nepal is now one of six divisions within the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.  The lab in Asmara, Eritrea employs over 50 staff, many of them women.

It is due to the drop in the price of the lenses that cataract surgery which was once thought of as too complicated and expensive to perform in developing countries can be carried out for as little as $25 in some places where The Foundation works.

Learn more about our work in Nepal and Eritrea.