Vision Care Outreach Teams

Giving the Gift of Sight !

Why Sight?   Can you imagine trying to function daily through life without eyesight?  Go ahead–close your eyes for a moment to get a better understanding.  Okay…you gave it a minute, but imagine living in a blur or in darkness for years or for a lifetime.  Well, one thing you couldn’t do would be read e-mail, the newspaper, road signs, or perform many simple tasks required to carry out certain jobs or tasks of everyday life.  The World Health Organization reports that around the world every 5 seconds a person goes blind and every minute a child goes blind.  90% of the blind or those with poor vision live in the developing world.  Fortunately, 75% of blindness is treatable and/or preventable and people with poor vision can often get significant improvement through a pair of glasses. 

Our Vision care teams give the gift of eyesight by providing simple vision screenings (over 1 billion people in our world have never had a simple vision test).  We also provide health education on eye care that will help prevent blindness.  And to those who need glasses, we provide them with their own pair of glasses.  The cost is surprisingly low.  While we have helped hundreds, thousands still suffer with poor eye care.    

Vessels of Mercy International has been given  the amazing honor of putting new or recycled glasses  on people around the world.  We have recognized the incredible power of Giving the Gift of Sight, and have come  to a startling conclusion:  with so many different needs around the world, we felt Vessels of Mercy Intl. had an obligation to try to improve as many lives as possible.

Sight is a fundamental need. The loss of sight has a dramatic impact on a person’s life – and on his or her family and community. Vessels of Mercy International gives to address this need because:

1. This is a Solvable Crisis Blindness and visual impairment is the seventh-largest health disability in the world. But in most cases it can be prevented or treated. In fact, available solutions, including medical treatment, prescription eyeglasses or a 15-minute cataract surgery, could impact 80% of people afflicted with vision impairment and blindness.

2. We Can Help Break the Poverty Trap of the nearly 284 million people in the world who are visually impaired, almost 90% live in developing countries. It’s a vicious cycle — poverty and disease can lead to vision loss. And blindness and poor vision keep people trapped in poverty.

3. Sight Means Education and Opportunity.  More than 18 million children around the world suffer from blindness or impaired vision. Children who have trouble seeing are often unable to go to or succeed in school, and have fewer chances to achieve a productive and successful life.

4. Women Have an Equal Right to Sight.  Two-thirds of people who are blind are women, in part because many families in developing countries are more likely to pay for eye care for male family members. By providing easy to access local eye care, we can help more women and girls around the world get sight saving and restoring services.

5. There is an Immediate Impact.  Many of the solutions to blindness and visual impairment can be immediate. If it’s a pair of eyeglasses or medical treatment that’s needed, patients are treated on the spot. Those needing eye surgery are referred immediately so their vision can be restored.

6. We Can Create a Better Tomorrow.   Regaining sight and preventing loss of sight transforms lives. Children can go to school the next day, and many adults return to work within a week and are once again able to provide for their families. When more people are able to lead healthy, productive lives, entire communities have a chance at a better future.

With our vision care clinics is more than just giving eyeglasses. While prescription eyeglasses are a part of the holistic eye care Vessels of Mercy Intl. supports, we have learned that people’s needs can be quite different. We’ve set up our approach to be able to address the most widespread needs. So we offer sponsorship so that one person can buy a pair of glasses, and one person receives the eye care that he or she needs.

We deliver that care through partnerships with eye care organizations and through the In-Focus training for lay health care workers.  We organize screenings right in the community to identify the people who need care. Vessels of Mercy International then helps to provide care in one of three ways:

1.  Medical Treatment:

Treat a person’s sight-threatening condition such as infection, injury or disease, by administering medical treatment such as prescription medications and removal of foreign objects from the eye.

2.  Prescription Eyeglasses:

Determine the corrective lenses a person needs and provide the right pair of eyeglasses. The patient gets to choose new frames and even check out their new look in a mirror.

3.   Sight-Saving Surgery:

We refer patients to a local hospital to perform a commonly needed operation, such as cataract surgery, which can be a 15-minute procedure. Cataract surgery is particularly impactful as cataract is a leading cause of blindness in the world.

 Where We Give

Our goal is to help to give sight to people in need all around the world, to date we have held clinics in Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaraqua.

Statistical sources: vision2020.org & who.int