Many of our faculty and residents share a passion for global health and for addressing health care disparities for patients in resource-limited settings around the world. Our faculty is actively involved in clinical outreach, program development, and research studies with partners at multiple international sites.
Third-year residents have the opportunity to participate in a fully-funded four-week elective within the Aravind Eye Care System––a groundbreaking eye care program in Madurai, India, which has become a model for restoring sight and providing vision care in low-resource regions worldwide. Pre-departure preparation and support is provided along with debriefings upon return, with the goal of helping residents integrate these experiences into their training and their future careers.
Established in 1976 by Dr. G. Venkataswamy, the Aravind Eye Care System––a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for the Prevention of Blindness––was created with the ambitious goal of eradicating preventable blindness among the 12 million sightless poor in India. Combining self-supporting services with no-cost health care for the poor and needy, Aravind has become a network of hospitals, clinics, community programs, factories, and research and training institutes in south India that has treated more than 32 million patients and has performed four million surgeries.
Residents have also designed their own electives in China; and, a few have traveled with faculty on 1 -2 week missions to Thailand and India to help train local ophthalmologists in advanced cornea surgeries.
In addition to our international opportunities, first year residents work with the UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic to help deliver care to children and families in underserved areas in and around Los Angeles, because it is our belief that “global health” does not mean just caring for patients in resource-limited foreign countries, but in our own backyards as well. In the past four years, the clinic screened more than 77,000 preschool students, and it is quickly approaching its goal of 90,000 patients under funding from First Five LA.
For those residents who have an interest in pursuing a career which involves caring for patients in resource-limited settings (whether international or domestic), there are opportunities for mentoring and learning both within the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA, as well as through the UCLA Center for World Health.