We have prepared this guideline to help answer some of the questions, which
might arise as you plan the upcoming VOSH eye care mission. With proper preparation,
the mission will run smoothly and patients will be served most efficiently.
The mission of VOSH/International is to provide vision care to individuals
worldwide that can neither afford nor obtain such care. VOSH/International is a nonsectarian
organization, having no political or religious agenda. Yet, we work with
tolerant religious organizations, governmental agencies and service organizations within
the host country.
GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING A MISSION SITE
For missions within and outside the USA boundaries:
We need to have the following:
1. Large population of people who cannot afford vision care.
2. Lack of accessible vision care
3. Safe environment for the team
4. A host organization willing to organize and support the mission by doing the
a. Arrangement for housing, transportation of the team, and meals
(expenses are often paid by the VOSH team or shared with the host)
b. Provide for safety of the team
c. Provide space for the clinic (see “Clinic:” below)
d. Notify the population of the upcoming eye care mission
i. It is recommended that patients be limited to those that otherwise
cannot afford vision care from other sources.
ii. Suggestion: General announcement can be made through radio,
TV, newspapers, or during church services.
For missions outside the USA boundaries:
a. Acquire a letter of invitation from:
i. Minister of Health of the host country
ii. local mayor or village leader
iii. from local health officials and vision care providers if
possible.(This action will alleviate misunderstandings with local
providers and allow them to volunteer their services during
or after the mission.)
b. Acquire agreement from the government to approve shipment of glasses,
equipment and supplies duty free
i. If there is to be a charge to get through customs the host
would be responsible for paying that fee or advising the
VOSH trip coordinator, prior to the mission, the anticipated
c. Provide a representative with authority to coordinate passage through
customs of the host country d. Provide an adequate number of interpreters as well as support staff for
i. Suggested guidelines for a team of 20-25 (one interpreter
per doctor, 2-3 in dispensary area, 1-2 in the screening
Each team will have their own procedures in handling the clinic but in general
these are the 5 areas:
1. PATIENT REGISTRATION: Local individuals usually do this. The
patient is asked a series of questions and the responses are recorded on a
form that the patient carries with them through the clinic. A table and
chairs will be needed for the volunteers working at the registration station.
2. VISUAL ACUITY TESTING
3. REFRACTION SCREENING: State of the art equipment provides an
approximate measurement within seconds.
4. EYE HEALTH, PRESCRIPTION, and REFERRAL DETERMINATION:
This station may be subdivided—depending on the design by the mission
a. Eye Health:
i. Eye health is evaluated.
b. Prescription Determination:
i. The doctor determines the final prescription. If acceptable with
the local eye care providers and/or optometry rules and
regulations of the area, medications may be dispensed to treat
minor eye infections.
i. Cataracts, glaucoma and other eye problems may be referred
from this station to local eye care providers or a mission team
5. DISPENSARY: Individuals needing glasses are fitted with recycled (or
new if available) eyeglasses that match their prescription as close as
OTHER SUGGESTED CLINIC GUIDELINES:
The management of the clinic routine varies tremendously from team to team. It
is essential the host country communicates with the mission leader to establish the
number of hours/day they will work, the number of clinic days, the number of patients
anticipated to be served per day, which patients (age group) should have priority and the
specific needs of the team.
General guidelines would be:
1. 3-5 days of work
2. Working hours vary from 7 AM to dark but often would be 8AM to 5PM or
less per day
3. Most adults over age 30+ usually need glasses at least for close work.
Patients of all ages will be seen but it is very helpful if children can be pre-screened so only those having complaints or eye problems would be coming
to the clinic.
4. The number of patients anticipated varies immensely due to team size, age of
patients, clinic organization, etc.
a. An average team of 20-25 will see 1500 –3000 patients during a
SEATING FOR PATIENTS AT THE CLINIC:
1. Registration—usually the patients stand in line waiting to register.
2. Chairs should be available for registered patients waiting for visual acuity,
refraction, eye health evaluation, and examination by the eye doctor. At most stations
10-15 chairs might be required. At each doctor’s station, chairs for the doctor and patient
will be needed as well as a small table (often shared by two doctors working side by side)
for the doctor’s trial lenses and hand equipment.
NOTE: Clinic site layout:
1. The clinic needs to be secure so equipment, supplies, and glasses can
be left overnight.
2. The examination and dispensary areas should each be in large
enough rooms to accommodate a large number of individuals
(anticipate 15-20+ seated patients plus staff and patient’s families in
each area). The two areas should be separate but nearby each other
to better control patient flow. In the doctor’s examination area
where the prescription is being determined, the lighting needs to be
The team will need modest, but safe, accommodations. Breakfast must be
available, usually between 6 AM and 7 AM. Lunch may be provided on site or at a
nearby facility—to be determined by the host and the mission director. Time lost via
travel during clinic hours is discouraged.
Bottled water or safe soft drinks would be appreciated during clinic hours.
Evening meals are often at the recommendation of the host group.
Some teams prefer staying together in one location; others like staying in homes
of the host group if that is an option—this should be determined initially between the host
group and the VOSH team coordinator.
Transportation will be required for the team, their equipment, supplies and
glasses. Be aware there are usually two pieces of luggage per team member (one of
which is usually supplies or glasses).
REST AND RELAXATION:
If outside the USA boundaries, at the completion of the clinic week, the team
often takes several days to see sites or relax somewhere. This is usually set up prior to
the mission by the mission leader/host country.
VOSH teams do not charge for any of their services. VOSH encourages
participation by the local eye care providers and do not want to undermine the practices
of any eye care provider.
To control patient flow, it is recommended that tickets or numbers be distributed
in advance of the mission. Often a different colored card or ticket is used for each day.
This will help to control the number of patients per day, save many patients from
needlessly standing in a long line, and reduce the risk of crowd uprising. If the numbering
system is strictly adhered to, it will prevent individuals from crowding into the line ahead
of others that have waited to be served.
Often the number of patients evaluated is less during the first day and more later
in the work week as the patient flow becomes more efficient.
It cannot be stressed enough that good communication between the hosts and the
mission leaders must be established prior to the mission and be on-going during the
The VOSH team looks forward to providing eye care to the patients of your area.
Thank you for being a part of the team!