A recognized leader in the field of international eye health program development, Victoria M. Sheffield was president and chief executive officer of the International Eye Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eradicate preventable and treatable blindness worldwide, from 1990 until her retirement in June 2020. She now serves as a consultant to IEF as a senior technical advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Child Blindness Program. Ms. Sheffield is vice president of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) since 2016, with which she notably chaired the partnership committee from 1993 to 1999 and co-chaired the IAPB/North America region.
Additionally, Ms. Sheffield flourished as the director of technical, educational and scientific services for Helen Keller International from 1984 to 1990, during which time she concentrated on developing training programs and materials to address vitamin A deficiency and eye health in multiple countries in Asia and Africa. Internationally recognized for her expertise, she is a consultant on the global education and outreach committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a former officer of InterAction. Ms. Sheffield remains active as the vice chairman of the International Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Council’s advisory board since its founding in 2013.
Working with Helen Keller International, Ms. Sheffield provided her expertise as a contributor to the United Nations Children’s Fund during the drought and famine in Ethiopia and Sudan from 1985 to 1989, and the World Health Organization’s “Programme for Prevention of Blindness” from 1985 to 1987. Working with the International Eye Foundation (IEF) from 1979 to 1984, she lived and worked in Kenya as the field training specialist of IEF’s Kenya Rural Blindness Prevention Project between 1980 and 1983. She was the founding vice president of VISION 2020/USA in 2009, an organization devoted to blindness prevention, and currently serves on its board of directors. A member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem since 1994, a British order of chivalry, Ms. Sheffield was given the rank of Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2013. She thrived as the American member of the board of trustees of the St. John Eye Hospital from 2009 to 2015, serving on the clinical governance committee and chairing the strategy committee. She currently serves on the chapter (board of trustees) of the order’s U.S. Priory and on various committees.
Throughout her illustrious career, Ms. Sheffield has lectured both in the United States and abroad at various institutions, and has presented at professional conferences around the world, as well as before the Royal Society of Medicine in London. A technical reviewer for seven different technical publications, she has authored 25 articles and five book chapters. An elected fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and DACOR, she is an honorary member of the Union of Bulgarian Ophthalmologists and the Albanian Society of Ophthalmology.
Ms. Sheffield is a Vietnam-era veteran joining the U.S. Air Force as a medic and advancing through the ranks serving in California, the Philippines and Italy between 1966 and 1972. After the Air Force, she took the Practical Nurse exam in New Jersey attaining the highest score and receiving her license in 1972. She obtained an associate’s degree after completing a two-year training program at the Georgetown University Medical School in Washington in 1977, where she became a certified ophthalmic medical technologist with “excellent” results.
Honored multiple times for her achievements in the field, Ms. Sheffield was given a Senior Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in 2014. The AAO previously honored her with a Secretariat Award in 2013 and an Achievement Award in 1999. Other recognitions to Ms. Sheffield’s credit have included the Prince Abdulaziz Bin Ahmad Al Saud Prevention of Blindness Award from the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology in 2010, a Regional Achievement Award from IAPB in 2008, a Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area Board in 1998, and the Statesmanship Award from the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology in 1990.