Field Programs

Since 1985, Vision Health International (VHI) has built sustainable partnerships with medical professionals, medical supply and equipment companies, foundations, individual donors, Latin American government agencies, and a host of committed volunteers—all who have joined in a single purpose: to restore the gift of sight.

In terms of personnel, supplies, and equipment, each VHI field program literally transports a vision clinic and operating room to Latin America.

VHI volunteer participants pay their own expenses, including airfare, meals, and lodging.

While some of our surgical and diagnostic equipment is hand-carried into the country, the bulk of an extensive catalog of supplies is gathered, packed, and shipped to the host country.

Pharmaceutical and medical supply companies generously donate the majority of the supplies required to conduct VHI field programs.

Successful cataract surgery is not only psychologically uplifting and economically enabling for the patient, in many cases an entire family is empowered with the restoration of sight for a working mother or father.

It is estimated that two people—usually family members—are required to care for a blind relative. Thus, successful cataract surgery, for one, serves to improve the quality of life for three. When viewed over the course of a one-week field program, when hundreds have had their vision restored, the impact is considerable. The effects take on a community-wide significance.

Strabismus (crossed-eyes) correction surgery has a significant social, psychological and economic outcome for young patients. The “normalization” of a child’s appearance has a positive and lasting benefit, greatly improving their lot in life.

On a typical VHI field program, ophthalmologists and optometrists provide 250 to 300 eye examinations, clinic volunteers dispense between 500 and 750 pairs of eyeglasses, and the operating room staff performs from 100 to 150 sight restoring and life-altering surgeries. 


Despite the overwhelming need for accessible and affordable vision health care throughout Latin America, VHI will travel only to those localities that have formally requested our services.

VHI follows a specific and well-established protocol when conducting its field programs in Latin America. Ministeries of Health, local, regional and national governmental agencies, and the administrations and staff at the host hospitals coordinate, facilitate and authorize VHI’s work.

Host-country ophthalmologists pre-screen patients, perform post-operative care, and in many instances, work side-by-side with our doctors in the operating room.

Six months prior to each field program, 20 to 25 individuals, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and clinic personnel are recruited to participate in VHI’s four or five annual, one-week field programs to Latin America.

VHI contributes clinical and surgical expertise, technology, technical assistance and, when possible, surplus medical supplies to the host country’s medical teams, thus helping to build and broaden the capacity of local ophthalmologists to expand the quality and extent of accessible and affordable vision health care in Latin America.

Field Program StatisticsView/download PDF