About AEC
About AEC
An introduction

About AEC

Welcome to AEC, a Dutch medical organization founded on 19 July 1999 in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, with the objective of preventing and treating blindness in Asia.

In many, often poverty-stricken Asian countries, blindness leads to a humanitarian as well as socio-economic catastrophy: it is estimated that at this moment, Asia has about 16 million blind persons, which number will have doubled in 2020. AEC believes, and knows from experience, that controlling blindness through optimum care and education contributes to raise the level of welfare and development of the people. On this website, you can read how you can help us in our struggle against this problem.

AEC’s medical team
Our professionals

AEC’s medical team

AEC deploys Dutch medical teams: ophthalmologists, surgery assistants and coordinators. During three-week missions, they visit local hospitals in order to provide intensive ophthalmic training to their 'own' doctors and nurses. In close collaboration, eye care is provided in outpatient departments and as many blind patients as possible are operated directly.

The expertise and skills of team members must meet high standards. However, physical and mental aspects are also taken into account during selection and deployment. The working conditions are heavy due to a high working pressure in an often hot, humid climate.

Blindness in Asia
A growing problem

Blindness in Asia

According to estimations by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 45 million blind people worldwide, about 16 million of whom live in Asia. It is feared that these numbers will have doubled already in 2020. Paradoxically, eighty per cent of all blind persons would be able to see, work and maintain their families again after a relatively simple operation. As it is, the usually poverty-stricken countries have neither the medical knowledge, nor the facilities and the money for such operations.

With VISION2020, the Right to Sight, the WHO appeals to the world for help. Asian Eye Care supports this initiative by deploying ophthalmic teams and giving training and instruments to local hospitals. Young children also have our attention as an important risk group. In many cases, childhood blindness can even be prevented through proper nutrition and in particular vitamin A.

Our goals
Prevention and treatment

Our goals

The objective of Asian Eye Care is clear and simple:
The prevention and treatment of blindness in Asia

AEC conforms itself to the principles and objectives of the WHO project VISION2020, the Right to Sight.*). Accordingly, the following priorities can be distinguished in our programs:

1. Ophthalmic training of local doctors and nurses
2. Providing eye care, including eye surgery
3. Improving of local eye care facilities with materials, medicines, instruments and intraocular lenses
4. Eye examination of young children at schools and, whenever possible, the prevention of blindness

About the association


Asian Eye Care is an association founded in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, on 19 July 1999.

Executive committee:
Prof. Ton de Boer, MD, PhD, president
Eric van Agtmaal, MSc, PhD, secretary
Hans van Gelderen, MSc, treasurer
Henk Hylkema, MD, PhD, member
Tom Bakx, MD, PhD, member.

Amstelveen Office: Eric van Agtmaal, MSc, PhD
Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand: Ms Lalitha Houtman Srinivas.

On 1 January 2008, AEC was certified with the Dutch Tax Authorities as an Institution for General Benefit (algemeen nut beogende instelling or ANBI). AEC is registered with the Chamber of Commerce Amsterdam (Reg.No. 34 11 8390). AEC Annual reports will be sent by our association upon request.

What, why and how


What is blindness?
Blindness is not something absolute, but a matter of medical definition. Generally, someone is said to be blind if he or she is unable to count a number of raised fingers correctly from a distance of three meters. Someone's vision is measured more accurately through the well-known letter maps and a number of advanced instruments.

Why does AEC work in Asia?
We work in Asia primarily because half the world's population lives in that continent, and the number of blind persons there is proportionately high.
Moreover, most AEC staff have lived and worked in Asia. Consequently, we have much expertise, experience and contacts in ophthalmology in Asia.

What is the major cause of blindness in Asia?
About 60% of all blindness is caused by cataract. Problems arise by the gradual clouding of the eye lens. Probably, nutrition and ultraviolet light also play a part. Cataract is cured by surgery, which involves replacing the clouded lens by an artificial lens.


Tom Bakx


“For a blind person an eye operation means the difference between day and night”

Marcella de Baat

Ophthalmic assistant

“You don’t just give them back their sight but also their lives”

Fedor Ikelaar

IT Trainer

“By sharing our knowledge you can see the eye care improve”

Eric van Agtmaal

Program co-ordinator

“It is amazing how much we can achieve together in a short time”


Ophthalmologists/eye surgeons
Gert Jan Ameln, Groningen
Bert Bakker, Bavel
Tom Bakx, Borne
Henriette Bijlmer-Gorter, Wassenaar
Bart Bistervels, Houten
Jan Geert Bollemeijer, Voorburg
Martin Buissink, Maastricht
Gerrit van Die, Zoeterwoude
Greet Dijkman, Amstelveen
Marinus Eykelenboom, 's Gravendeel
Annette Geerards, Wassenaar
Govert Heeg, Groningen
Durk Humalda, Sneek
Henk Hylkema, Zwolle
Wouter Japing, Groningen
Paulus de Jong, Amsterdam
Caroline Klaver, Elst
Derk Jan van Kuik, Enschede
Marina Marinkovic, Leiden
Ina Meenken, Amsterdam
Maarten Rol, Amsterdam
Frans Ros, Utrecht
Mary van Schooneveld, Amsterdam
Ceciel Schweitzer, Enschede
Caroline Storimans, Zeist
Heleen Verburg-van der Marel, Sittard
Steven Walland, Amsterdam
Other physicians
Ton de Boer, Amstelveen
Ophthalmic assistants
Marcella de Baat, Leiden
Angelien Buurman, Leiden
Annemiek van Duin, Noordwijk
Monique Eichelsheim, Goes
Sandra de Gooijer, Hengelo
Karin Hoek, Hengelo
Suzanna Hulskamp, Alkmaar
Chantal Nijsen, Rotterdam
Judith van Schoot, Zwolle
Suzanne Vulink, Hengelo
Linda Weissink, Enschede
Team coordinators
Eric van Agtmaal, Amstelveen
Ghislaine Coenegracht, Amsterdam
Hans van Gelderen, Amsterdam
Lalitha Houtman Srinivas, Bangkok
Text/design and communication
Irene van Agtmaal, Utrecht
Tineke Hol, Amsterdam
Fedor Ikelaar, Amstelveen
Coos van Laar, Amstelveen
Rob van Niele, Nieuw Vennep
Ferry de Ridder, Enkhuizen
Rob Spel, Amsterdam
Saichon Surapinich, Huizen
Peter Vossen, Den Haag
Martin Warnar, Den Haag

Our Partners

AEC collaborates with various international organizations, Dutch embassies and consulates, as well as authorities and hospitals in the program countries.

’AEC is supported by various institutions, organizations and companies such as:
Foreign affairs

Foreign affairs

AEC keeps close contact with the embassies in the region

AEC Letter of Support

Hofstee Foundation

Hofstee Foundation

Provides financial support to AEC programs.


Bausch + Lomb

Bausch + Lomb

Donates a share of the eye lenses for surgery.


Medicin Sans Frontieres Holland

MSF Holland

Supports AEC in on-site logistics and communication.


Vision 2020

Vision 2020

VISION2020, the Right to Sight. All AEC programs are set up and conducted according to the guidelines of the WHO action plan 'VISION 2020, the Right to Sight' (www.vision2020.org).