• Provides grants for non-profit

    initiatives expected to have a

    positive impact on unmet needs

    in eye care

  • Welcomes initiatives from

    developing and developed


  • Judged by a panel of

    international experts

Applications will be accepted after 1st October 2016.

Thank you for your interest in the XOVA program.

This is an award program that is sponsored by Novartis Pharma and Alcon. XOVA is intended for medical specialists who have devised initiatives that are expected to have significant impact in unmet needs in the field of ophthalmology and optometry.

The objective is to provide funding, in the form of a grant, for non-profit initiatives and projects that are expected to have a positive impact on improving the quality of eye care. Initiatives intended for developing countries, as well as those in developed parts of the world, are warmly welcomed.

The XOVA 2015 application period is now closed and this year's winners will be announced in the next few months. If you missed out this year, please come back and apply next year. We want to support as many projects as we can!


Visual impairment affects millions of people







In 2010, it was estimated that 285 million people worldwide suffered from visual impairment, with 246 million described as having low vision and 39 million described as being blind.1

In 2000, the global economic impact of blindness and low vision was US$ 42 billion.
Without a decrease in the prevalence of blindness and low vision, this figure was projected to rise to US$ 110 billion per year by 2020.2

1. WHO. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/[Accessed 28 January 2014]
2. WHO Vision2020 Report. Available from http://www.who.int/blindness/Vision2020_report.pdf[Accessed 28 January 2014]

Number of visually impaired people (in thousands) per million population, 2010






Southeast Asia


Eastern Mediterranean


Western Pacific







The XOVA program aims to help reduce the burden of blindness around the world by providing funding to projects that strive to make improvements within the field of eye care.

What is the history of the XOVA program?


XOVA established

XOVA program established by Novartis Pharma

October/November 2010 – grants awarded



October/November 2011 – grants awarded


Alcon partnership

Alcon joins Novartis Pharma as sponsors

344 entries received from over 40 countries across 2010 to 2012

October/November 2012 – grants awarded


XOVA 2013

100 entries received from 31 countries

October 2013 – five awards were granted


XOVA 2014

88 applications received from 36 countries

September 2014 – five awards were granted


XOVA 2015

171 applications from 56 countries

October 2015 – Five awards were granted

For more information, please see our frequently asked questions (FAQs) page.

Grant Recipients

XOVA is an award program that provides funding, in the form of a grant, for non-profit, sustainable initiatives that are expected to have a significant impact on unmet needs in the field of ophthalmology and optometry.

Click on the markers below to find out more about each year's grant recipients

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, USA

Robison Vernon Paul Chan

Awarded a grant to introduce tele-medicine and tele-education for the management of retinopathy of prematurity in Mexico.

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Deseret Community Vision Institute and Eye, Foundation Center for the Prevention of Blindness

Mildred Ulaikere

Awarded a grant to help identify and treat childhood blindness in Ogun State, Nigeria.

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Oftalmocenter, Guimarães, Portugal

Luís Gonçalves

Awarded a grant to establish an ophthalmic center for education and eye care in Guinea-Bissau.

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New Sight Eye Care, Impfondo, Republic of Congo

Joyce and Henri Samoutou

Awarded a grant to empower local people to pioneer the first and only eye surgical center in the north of the Republic of Congo.

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CBM East Africa

Ingrid Mason

Awarded a grant to improve diagnostic equipment maintenance and training for repair technicians in Tanzania and Kenya.

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Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland

Right to Sight

Awarded a grant to establish a cataract surgeon training center in Kenya.

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Giridhar Eye Institute, Kerala, India

Giridhar Anantharaman

Awarded a grant to increase awareness of diabetic retinopathy in Kerala, India.

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Aravind Eye Hospital, Pondicherry, India

Kannusamy Veena

Awarded a grant to improve the teacher training model, identifying ocular defects among school children in Pondicherry, India.

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Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Kolkata, India

Himadri Datta

Awarded a grant to work with non-governmental organizations to improve the sight of street children in Kerala, India.

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People's Hospital, Peking University, China

Yong Tao

Awarded a grant to train local doctors to examine and manage ocular disorders in Henan AIDS villages in China.

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Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Australia

Nitin Verma

Awarded a grant to set up teleophthalmology services and improve management of ocular emergencies in Timor Leste, Indonesia.

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Ona Network, Inc., Dodoma, Tanzania

Frank Magupa

Awarded a grant to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable cataract surgery in the Tanzanian city of Dodoma.

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Sight For All, Ltd., Australia

James Muecke

Awarded a grant to train and equip the first specialist pediatric ophthalmologists in Cambodia and Lao.

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Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Medical Ships, Australia

Lynette Grubwinkler

Awarded a grant to provide surgical care and empower local ophthalmologists to bring eye-care services to remote areas of Papua New Guinea.

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Singapore Eye Research Institute and Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore

Marcus Ang

Awarded a grant to bring long-term and sustainable eye care to remote Himalayan communities.

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Deafblind Assistance Services, Arusha, Tanzania

Peter Mayoki

Awarded a grant to help ensure Tanzanian children who are deaf-blind get the right to an education.

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Divyajyoti Trust, India

Uday R. Gajiwala

Awarded a grant to bring door-to-door screening for glaucoma, diabetes and hypertension to the Surat District of India.

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Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology, Tanzania

Elizabeth Kishiki

Awarded a grant to provide subsidy for surgery, administer postoperative care, and supply assistive devices to children with low vision and blinding eye diseases throughout eastern Uganda.

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Myanmar Eye Care Project in partnership with RANZCO Eye Foundation, Australia

Hyong Kwon Kang

Awarded a grant to develop an operating theater sterilization and aseptic pathway at the Wachet Hospital in Myanmar.

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Sight for Souls, USA

Demissie Tadesse

Awarded a grant to train and deploy mid-level ophthalmic personnel to help scale up eye care service volume in Ethiopia.

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VISION 2020 LINK Programme at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Clare Inkster

Awarded a grant to ensure equity and quality standards for eye care services, provide high level training in the clinical and management fields, and to enable affordable treatment for diabetic retinopathy in Nigeria.

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International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Tropical Medicine

Awarded a grant for Improving cataract surgical outcomes through online continuing professional development (CPD) education in diagnostic training in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Fred Hollows Foundation, Australia

Awarded a grant for systematic fundus photography-based screening program for Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) in Kenya.

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Lions NSW Eye Bank, Australia

Awarded a grant for the upgrade of Eye Bank and Corneal Surgical Services in Mandalay Myanmar.

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Orbis Charitable Trust, UK

Awarded a grant for the establishment of the first ever wetlab training programme for high quality cataract surgery for residents and teachers, in the University of Malawi and Makarere University of Uganda.

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Sabona Sonke Foundation, South Africa

Awarded a grant for telemedicine screening and treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity in the Nelson Mandela Metro and Cacadu District of South Africa.

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View the projects by year


XOVA applications are judged by a committee of experts in eye health from countries across the world.

  • I have actively participated in voluntary missions in Africa since I was 18 and I am convinced that every individual must experience volunteering at some point. The XOVA program is an extraordinary opportunity to improve human quality of life and vision in developing areas, and create a community of people attentive to those most in need. I'm proud to be a XOVA judge.
    Paolo Lanzetta

  • XOVA is an excellent tool to provide support to medical specialists with an innovative idea addressing unmet needs in the field of ophthalmology. With the help of this grant pioneer projects will be triggered to improve eye care in various parts of the world.
    Nicole Eter

  • As an international member of the ophthalmological community, a researcher, clinician and teacher, I am regularly travelling to all parts of the world to teach about new diagnostic and treatment modalities, joining my colleagues' fight against retinal pathologies that threaten vision loss. For this reason I am well aware of the huge responsibility we have as doctors and of the importance of XOVA and similar initiatives to give a better chance to every patient everywhere, regardless of geography and politics. We are fully aware that there are countries where blindness still occurs from diseases that already have solutions such as cataract and others, and we would like to contribute as much as we can to eliminate this. We are also aware that there are bright, hard-working, enthusiastic individuals who have great ideas, and who are willing to devote their time and expertise for this goal, and for whom funding by XOVA will be crucial. I think that we need to devote the award to sustainable programs that teach and empower the local people to continue the doing, and thus will be self-perpetuating.
    Anat Loewenstein

  • The XOVA program has increased my awareness of the challenges that face patients and health care professionals in underprivileged circumstances, and the commitment of those who work there to bring a better future to people with eye disease and limited vision. A XOVA grant may be just what it takes to tip the scales in favor of success, and encourage people to keep fighting.
    Michael Larsen

  • XOVA is an innovative program that is funding a broad range of projects in international eye care. The number of high-quality applications is growing each year. It is exciting to be involved as a judge, and to see the potential benefits to eye health worldwide which come from the program.
    Alex Hunyor

  • I have often been frustrated by the significant number of people deprived of proper ophthalmic healthcare. However, as a XOVA judge, I am delighted to see how resident ophthalmologists are overcoming such restrictions, and striving to sustain and develop local eye care services. Credit should be given to the XOVA for its continued efforts in helping and improving practical ophthalmology in developing countries.
    Xiaoxin Li

  • The XOVA is a fantastic opportunity to provide support for an outreach or community support program, which can provide the foundation for future improvements in local eyecare in under-developed areas of the world. The many projects I have had the opportunity to review have shown the breadth of creative outreach ideas and unique solutions to complex problems faced in other parts of the world.
    Tom Sheidow

The Application Submission for 2017 opens on 1st October 2016 and closes on 31st January 2017. Please check back shortly to submit your application.


Initiatives based in any country are warmly welcomed.

Proposed initiatives must demonstrate a clear impact on improving the quality of eye care, as well as long-term viability, with outcomes projected within two years.

The Application Submission for 2017 opens on 1st October 2016 and closes on 31st January 2017. Please check back shortly to submit your application.

Applicants must provide details of projects that have already been designed and planned, using the application form

Initiatives must be at a relatively advanced stage, simply requiring the XOVA funding grant in order to provide education with sustainable impact, and/or innovation in clinical practice

Proposed initiatives must demonstrate long-term viability and a clear impact on improving the quality of eye care

For more information on applying for XOVA, please see our frequently asked questions (FAQs) page.

Full terms and conditions regarding the XOVA program will be released with the call for application. If you have any questions that are not answered in the FAQs please contact us via email at XOVA@amp-health.com.

Data Privacy Statement: When you apply to XOVA, you accept that the Sponsors (Novartis, located in Basel Switzerland), AMP Health located in Zürich, Switzerland (who manage the XOVA program), and the XOVA judging faculty (ophthalmology experts located in countries around the world) will use the information you provide on your application to select the XOVA winners, and to contact successful applicants. Once the program is concluded for a particular year, if you have not been selected, your personal information will be deleted. By submitting this application you permit Novartis, AMP Health, and the judging faculty to use your personal information as described, and to transfer the information between themselves as required for the purposes of the program.