How we got started

Dr. Rodney E. Abernethy recognized that even the most basic vision health care was out of reach for most adults and children in rural Latin America, where there is perhaps one ophthalmologist for every 250,000 people, and where unemployment, lack of health insurance, and the burden of poverty compound an already serious medical problem.

Beginning in 1985 and on three successful (and sometimes difficult) surgical field programs to Ecuador, Dr. Abernethy established a model and a mission for a growing band of dedicated volunteers. Sadly, this small group of doctors, nurses, and Peace Corps volunteers lost their inspirational leader in 1988. Thankfully, they never lost their inspiration.

VHI was incorporated in 1989 to honor Dr. Abernethy’s pioneering work in Ecuador and to continue his efforts to make vision health care services affordable and accessible for people in the developing countries of Latin America.