Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community—either your local community that supports your eye care practice, or the wider international community. No matter your job title, skill level, experience level, or personal preferences, volunteer opportunities in the eye care field abound.
In the winter issue of Eye Care Leaders magazine, we profiled a few physicians who have made volunteering a part of their careers (if you haven’t subscribed, check out page 22 of our Winter 2019 issue here). And while they traveled far from home, you don’t have to—unless you want to.
Ready to make a difference but not sure where to start? Check out this list.
From right around the corner to around the globe, you’re bound to find an opportunity that’s a perfect fit, no matter where you want to go or what you want to do!
Affiliated with the Pacific University College of Optometry. AMIGOS Eye Care provides vision care to underserved populations in the Portland area and around the globe.
The Armenian Eye Care Project focuses on eliminating preventable blindness and increasing access to quality eye care in Armenia.
The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is a very large organization that works throughout the world to advance research into the eye and eye diseases.
The Center for Vision Loss provides rehabilitation and support for those experiencing vision loss in Pennsylvania. They are an accredited service provider for the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind.
The Christian Eye Network provides updated lists of volunteer mission trips for ophthalmologists and optometrists around the world.
The Ensight Skills Center provides people in Colorado with low vision “the tools, counseling, and training that empowers independent and productive living.
EyeCare America provides access to eye care for seniors who have not had a medical eye exam in three or more years and those with increased risk for glaucoma.
The Eye Health Institute provides comprehensive eye care to underserved people in Jamaica, typically making two trips per year in the spring and fall.
Friends for Sight provides screenings, education, and vision clinics to youth and adults in Utah. They lso partner with local school districts to host SightFest outreach events, providing children with full exams and eye glasses.
Opportunities with the Glaucaoma Research Foundation are many and varied. You can participate in professional and community outreach programs, host a fundraiser, and volunteer at events or the GRF office.
The Global Sight Alliance website offers a search function that matches volunteers with organizations looking for help.
The Hawaiian Eye Foundation conducts mission trips throughout Hawaii, the Pacific Rim, Viet Nam, and other areas in the South Pacific.
The Himalayan Cataract Project “works with local eye care partners throughout Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa to develop cost effective approaches for high-quality cataract surgery and clinical knowledge in ophthalmology sub-specialties including cornea, glaucoma, pediatric, oculoplastics, vitro-retina, and advanced anterior segment.”
Kids Vision for Life provides eye care at schools and school-related events throughout the U.S. to students living within 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
Prevent Blindness Texas is an eye health and safety organization dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight in the state of Texas through vision screenings, special events, and community outreach.
SEE International partners with health organizations and works alongside local doctors and clinics to provide eye surgery, education, and equipment in the U.S. and in over 46 countries around the world.
In South Carolina, Servants for Sight partners with local agencies, churches, and other programs to provide eye care to low income and homeless populations. They also conduct international mission trips, currently in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.
Unite for Sight supports locally led and managed eye clinics worldwide by investing human and financial resources, as well as applying best practices in eye care, public health, social entrepreneurship, and volunteerism. They partner with local clinics to provide exams, diagnosis, treatment, and follow up care.
Vision is Priceless provides access to vision care including screenings, exams, eye glasses, and specialty care for uninsured and underserved populations in northeastern Florida.
The mission of VOSH International (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) is “to provide the gift of vision and quality eye health to people worldwide. They also support sustainable clinics and optometric education in underserved areas around the world.
Don’t forget that volunteering isn’t reserved for those providing clinical services. Non-clinical volunteers are also need for on-site support, general office work, planning, fundraising, community interaction, and more. Even if you’re not ready to travel or do hands-on work, that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. Consider in-kind donations, hosting a fundraiser, sponsoring a race, having a special event at your practice (like a trunk show) with the proceeds going to a charitable foundation.