We have always admired the extraordinary force of character of our ancestor, Paul Chibret, a young military doctor and future ophthalmologist, who, in 1870, left his home town in France to relieve human suffering in Algeria, and more specifically fight against the disease trachoma. We look on him as our "founding forefather", one of the precursors of international humanitarian action and field medicine in countries of the South. His high aspirations, his unwavering willpower and his commitment to ethical involvement have inspired five generations of the Chibret family. Actions to improve eye care in disadvantaged countries have become a family tradition that has always been respected. Indeed, after Paul, the ophthalmologist, there was Henry, then Jean, then Jacques Chibret, all actors in a great industrial adventure of research, development and marketing of eye care products; an adventure that we pursue today, with Laboratoires Théa, the leading independent European group in ophthalmology.
The launch of the Fondation Théa in 2012 is therefore the latest chapter in a story of humanitarian involvement that goes back over a century. With this foundation, we aim to further our actions in the fight against blindness and the improvement in eye care. The Fondation Théa will enable us to pursue actions in our usual areas of involvement – participation in field campaigns against blinding diseases, knowledge sharing with doctors, healthcare workers and people exposed to pandemics – but will also allow us to implement more innovative philanthropic strategies. This new initiative will interest all our partners who have accompanied us over the past years, but will also allow us to get to know new partners and learn to appreciate them as they share with us their enthusiasm, talent and time over the coming years. Millions of people in the world still suffer from visual impairment. Most of them live in developing countries. However, 80% of these visual disorders could be prevented or cured. It is a huge public health challenge that must be met in order to allow these populations to survive and develop economically.