Student Organizations

Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity

VOSH is a national organization aimed at helping people who do not have access to eye care. Indiana University School of Optometry's student VOSH chapter is open to all optometry, optician, optometric technician, and vision science students. Donated eyeglasses are cleaned and organized to be taken and dispensed on trips to Latin American countries. In recent years, VOSH members have made an annual trip to Guanajuato, Mexico, seeing nearly 3,000 patients in less than a week's time. Funds for these projects come mostly from donations.

If you have questions about VOSH, please contact the representatives below.

Annual mission

Members of the School of Optometry's student chapter of VOSH return each spring to the mountainside community of Guanajuato, Mexico, to extend their optometric abilities to those in need. The group traveling to Guanajuato for the weeklong mission trip is composed of approximately 40 people—including students, faculty members, doctors, and technicians. They are sometimes joined by members of ICare International, an charitable organization of volunteer eye care professionals.

Nearly 3,000 local residents, as well as inhabitants of surrounding towns and villages, arrive in a steady stream from morning to evening each day to have their eyes examined. Approximately 1,400 pairs of glasses and sunglasses are dispensed.

Preparing for a mission

The mission would not be a success without countless hours of preparation.

In the weeks before the mission, the Mexican DIF (Department of Infants and Families) staff travels to the poorest portions of the state and identifies those having vision problems. This ensures that every patient seen during the mission week is truly in need of care. The glasses dispensed to these grateful recipients are donated, and most are collected by the Lions International Used Eyeglass Recycling Center. Indiana inmates determine the prescription in each pair. Finally, the School of Optometry's student VOSH members carefully organize and catalogue the spectacles—transporting 10,000 pairs of glasses to Mexico as luggage. The tedious work of 200+ hours of computer entry into a glasses database is worthwhile because it ensures the closest match possible.

The glasses not used during the VOSH mission are given to the School of Optometry teaching clinic in Guanajuato, and the database is transferred to the clinic's system. In addition to glasses, other equipment and therapeutic medications are transported to the year-round clinic.

Special thanks to DIF

The DIF provides the VOSH group boarding and a spacious, state-of-the-art conference center in which to perform its work. It comfortably accommodates the daily influx of patients, as well as testing equipment and separate areas for the various stages of the exam and dispensary. The center's friendly staff and local nursing students are eager to help in any way they can—taking entrance visual acuities and health histories, running auto-refractors, troubleshooting electrical problems, and keeping the VOSH members fed and caffeinated.

VOSH Links