Dr. Vadrevu K. Raju, a renowned ophthalmologist, president and founder of the Eye Foundation of America was awarded with the Excellence in Medicine Award by GOPIO – Virginia on Sunday October 3rd, 2021.
Dr. V.K. Raju, who was born in Rajahmundry, AP, India, is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Director of the International Ocular Surface Society, Director of the Ocular Surface Research and Education Foundation, Chairman of Goutami Eye Institute in Rajahmundry and is the President and Founder of the Eye Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to realizing a world without childhood blindness.
Dr. Raju who was recently appointed to the Faculty of Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University recently, traveled to London last month to chair the first Board Meeting of The Eye Foundation of America (UK).
Dr. Raju said, “A new beginning has been done in UK for the Eye Foundation. During a dinner meeting with the Board of Directors and the friends of The Eye Foundation of America (UK), I was encouraged by the warmth and enthusiasm shown by many about the nature and extent of the work the Eye Foundation has been carrying on across the globe, working tirelessly to make the world without childhood blindness.
The Foundation was fortunate to have Uzbekistan Ambassador, H.E Said Rustamov as an hnored guest. Dr. Raju was a special guest at the Embassy of Uzbekistan and had attended Uzbekistan’s 30th Independence Day celebrations at Lords.
Dr. Raju expressed gratitude to all the Board members of the Foundation in UK, particularly, Ashwini Misro, Radhika Misro, and Raj Koppada for their enthusiasm and generosity in helping realize the mission of the Eye Foundation in preventing and treating childhood blindness and beyond in Uzbekistan.
Dr. V.K. Raju’s crusade for the past four decades has been to achieve his vision of a world without avoidable blindness. Since 1979, the Eye Foundation of America has expanded its reach to over 25 countries, screened millions of patients, and provided hundreds of thousands of surgeries. As Dr. Raju points out, prevention is more beneficial than disease management, and lifestyle changes can be preventive. His organization’s programs, which aim at prevention through education and lifestyle modifications, include the 100,000 Lives campaign in India and the WV Kids Farmer’s Market Program in West Virginia.
In 1977, he began traveling home to India to offer his services as an ophthalmologist to those who could not afford, or access, desperately needed eye care. The Eye Foundation of America founded by an Indian-American physician, is entering a new phase in its mission of ending avoidable blindness by collaborating with GAPIO (Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin) and AAPI (American Association of Physicians of India Origin).
These preventive services and medical and surgical interventions were delivered in the form of eye camps in the early days, and the EFA was initially founded to allow for easier transfer of state-of-the-art equipment and medicine from the United States to India. As the Foundation matured, it became so much more. The EFA is now a global organization responsible for treating millions of patients, performing hundreds of thousands of surgeries, and training hundreds of eye care professionals to join in the global fight against preventable blindness.
The EFA’s work spans 30 countries over several continents. One focus of current outreach efforts is in the prevention of diabetes. Diabetes-related complications typically strike during the prime of life and include the development of cataracts at an earlier age than normal, a two-fold increased risk of glaucoma, and small blood vessel damage (i.e., diabetic retinopathy). Retinopathy can cause blindness; however, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90% of cases. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 20% of the diabetic world population resides in India, approximately 61.3 million diabetics.
In 2018, 34.2 million Americans had diabetes. There are 229,000 people with diabetes in West Virginia and 8.3% of adults are borderline diabetic. West Virginia is ranked the #2 state for deaths involving diabetes. According to Dr. Raju, the prevalence of diabetes among Indians in India and West Virginians in the United States continues to rise rapidly, and in many ways, the diabetes epidemic in West Virginia is similar to that of India, as the populations share similar characteristics: they tend to be rural, poor, and underserved. Born in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, Raju earned his medical degree from Andhra University and completed an ophthalmology residency and fellowship at the Royal Eye Group of Hospitals in London.
Dr. VK Raju was among the class of 2017 inductees into the University of Toledo Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North America Telegu Society. Dr. Raju has published two books, seventeen chapters, and over 100 publications in scientific journals.
Dr. Raju has received numerous awards, including the AMA Foundation Nathan Davis Excellence in Medicine International Award, Four Time Awardee by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Martin Luther King Jr Achievement Award from WVU, Distinguished Community Service Award from AAPI (American Association of Physicians from India), Pride of the Pride Award from Lions International District 29, Vaidya Ratna (conferred by Shankaracharya of Kanchi), Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Ophthalmologists of Indian Origin, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WV State Medical Association.