Our Mission

VOSH/International believes in the freedom to see. Providing the gift of vision and eye health to people worldwide. We facilitate the provision and the sustainability of vision care worldwide for people who can neither afford nor obtain such care. Our goal is to increase our global impact whenever possible by supporting sustainable eye clinics, optometry schools and optometric educators in areas lacking sufficient eye care. There are over 75 VOSH regional, state and school chapters worldwide working to accomplish our goals.

Our mission

VOSH believes in the freedom to see.

Our mission is to provide the gift of vision and quality eye health to people worldwide.

VOSH facilitates the provision and the sustainability of vision care worldwide for people who can neither afford nor obtain such care.

Our goal is to increase our global impact whenever possible by supporting sustainable eye clinics, optometry schools and optometric educators in areas lacking sufficient eye care.

VOSH Code of Conduct

VOSH/International® and its chapters are committed to:

  • Respecting and acting responsibly toward the communities in which we work and for the benefit of the communities that we serve;
  • Treating every individual with dignity and respect;
  • Acting honestly, truthfully and with integrity in all our transactions and dealings;
  • Being ethical, responsible, transparent and accountable for our actions;
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest.
VOSH/International Statement on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

For almost 50 years VOSH/International and its chapters have provided the gift of vision and eye health to thousands of people worldwide. We offer our services to anyone experiencing economic, geographical, educational barriers to access quality eye care because we believe quality eye health should not be a privilege. We do not believe people should be discriminated on the basis of their race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or the work they do. As the biggest global network of volunteer optometrists, we celebrate the abundance and diversity of expression the world has to offer.

It is undeniable that 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges and fundamental questions to our lives. Across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the unequal impact on the public health systems and the vulnerable communities that depend on them. Everywhere, the tragic toll that COVID-19 has taken on ethnic minorities and disadvantaged groups is concerning.

This coronavirus does not discriminate, but health care challenges do not affect all communities in equal manner. Now more than ever, global collaboration is essential and we -as members of the global eye health sector- support and recognize the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) that has worked hard towards the elimination of trachoma and river blindness, and that continues to play an important role in the reduction of the prevalence of vision impairment and the inclusion of eye health within Universal Health Coverage (UHC); all of which affect the most vulnerable communities. For this reason, this support also extends to other global initiatives geared to contain the impacts of climate change on the environment and human health.

Sadly, in this already difficult context, racism has once again confronted us. The global reaction to racism and the inequalities it creates require a serious reflection on the changes that society needs and the role we can play in this change.

We need to be consistent with our values at home and abroad. We cannot feel unmoved and not hurt by what is happening in our society now. We do not discriminate against our patients or volunteers, but that is clearly not enough. We need to redouble our efforts to support access to optometry education to students from diverse backgrounds and be more proactive to ensure diverse representation in our leadership roles and structures. We need to be more proactive reaching fellow optometrists from black and minority backgrounds to collaborate helping communities through humanitarian eye clinics and public health education. But we also need to be humble and learn more about the challenges our black and minority colleagues face and be ready to support each other in times of need.

VOSH/International volunteers always feel that serving others in need brings the best of them. Let 2020 be the year where our vision strengthens, and we help others see that respect and kindness are the only way to a more just and equitable society for the benefit of all.

VOSH/International opposes racism and is committed to working for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the US and abroad.

Approved by the Board of Directors of VOSH/International on August 04, 2020

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html

US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021