There’s no shortage of underserved populations in need of volunteer eye care, resulting in plenty of opportunities for optometry professionals to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Whether you go on an optometry mission trip or provide eye care on a volunteer basis in your local community, there are many benefits of giving your time and expertise.
Adding volunteer eye care experience to your resume is beneficial in making a strong impression on potential employers and demonstrating dedication to your field, those in need, and your own personal growth. When you volunteer with a team, you’re adding invaluable contacts to your professional network as well. And at the end of the day, you’ve made the world a better place.
Check out these organizations with awesome optometry volunteer opportunities in the US and abroad.
Photo Source: Unite for Sight
Unite for Sight coordinates year-round optometry volunteer opportunities in Ghana, India, and Honduras. You can opt for a one-week program in Ghana or sign up for multiple weeks or months in any of the three countries as a member of their Global Impact Corps. Participants in the Global Impact Corps – which is open to students as well as professionals – also receive a Certificate in Global Health and Program Delivery. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer credit for completing an Unite for Sight program.
Photo Source: VOSH
VOSH runs short-term optometry mission trips and clinics in more than 30 countries as well as in cities across the US. The VOSH Corps Program and the Ambassador Program, open to North American optometrists, are great options to consider if you’re interested in training eye care professionals abroad and helping to build optometric academic programs.
Photo Source: Optometry Giving Sight
Optometry Giving Sight is a global fundraising organization that trains local eye care professionals, establishes optometry schools and vision centers, and delivers eye care and low-cost glasses. You can volunteer for children’s clinics in Australia or give in other ways such as participating in World Sight Day Challenges or placing a donation box in your optometry practice.
Photo Source: International Service Learning
International Service Learning’s optometry program offers optometrist, optometry student, and pre-optometry volunteer opportunities. You’ll receive immersive optometry training and serve patients in their homes and in clinics. Optometry mission trip locations include Panama and Mexico.
Photo Source: Kids Vision for Life
Kids Vision for Life provides vision correction for children in need. They run mobile clinics and also have locations in Atlanta, GA; Greater Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Orange County, CA; Greater DC; Tarrant County, TX; Central Texas; St. Louis, MO; and West Virginia. Trained opticians and optometrists can volunteer in either of these venues to conduct eye exams and help with frame styling and fitting. You can also sign up to educate kids and parents about the importance of vision correction.
Photo Source: The Eye Health Institute
The Eye Health Institute’s optometry volunteer opportunities include two trips to Jamaica each year with a team of optometrists, ophthalmologists, and eye care students as well as nurses, physicians, and non-medical volunteers. On your optometry mission trip, you’ll likely care for patients who have never seen a doctor before and address highly acute conditions. The Eye Health Institute has also partnered with the University of Michigan’s Third Century Initiative bringing climate-controlled healthcare “pods” to remote areas around the world.
Volunteering in optometry is an excellent way to make a major difference in people’s lives while gaining experience and benefitting your career at the same time. This list is just a start – there are many more optometry and pre-optometry volunteer opportunities out there for you to pursue. Do your research to find out which program best fits your skills, experience, and career aspirations.