Ending Treatable Blindness in Guatemala
We provide US-based charitable support for Visualiza – a social service enterprise & Guatemala’s largest eye care provider.
25 years ago, one blind man cradled in his sons’ arms emerged from the Guatemalan rainforest and started our quest to cure treatable blindness.
He crossed countless miles of wilderness for help…
….but the mission team couldn’t give him a 10-minute cataract surgery to restore his sight.
He wasn’t the only person turned away that day.
That’s when we saw how mission trips with limited time and resources can undermine prospects for sustainable, permanent, high-volume, high-quality eye care.
Patients need surgery and medical follow-up; eyeglasses break; recycled eyeglasses don’t work most of the time; medications need to be refilled; and eye trauma happens 52 weeks a year – not just when mission teams are there.
Turning Mission Trips into Sustainable Local Eye Care
Deeply motivated to care for the poor, three early mission team members were just starting a private eye care practice in Guatemala City. They turned that practice into a social service enterprise and Visualiza was born.
This meant some patients would pay full price for eye care, others would only be able to pay some of the total cost, and the poorest patients wouldn’t be able to pay anything…
…but EVERYONE would get the same quality of care!
And THAT meant a larger amount of profit had to be reinvested in the business. It was a serious personal sacrifice and financial risk for these young doctors just starting out.
But a dedicated group of donors also helped get Visualiza underway and kept it going until we reached financial independence.
Setting Down Roots & Expanding Operations
Starting with one eye care clinic and supporting mobile clinics in Guatemala’s Peten Rainforest, Visualiza expanded to two Eye Care Hospitals and four supporting Vision Centers between 1996 and 2016.
Today, Visualiza employs 120 medical and administrative staff members serving over 150,000 patients – including more than 12,000 surgeries – every year, regardless of ability to pay.
Our eye care network is also supported by a host of non-governmental international partners, like the Aravind Hospital, Seva Foundation, the International Eye Foundation, the International Association to Prevent Blindness, and the Christian Blind Mission.
We’ve learned exactly what it takes to make each of these
Eye Care Hospitals and Vision Centers self-sustaining one year after opening:
13,000 patients, 660 surgeries, 3,996 prescription sales, and 996 more medical procedures every year make Visualiza Eye Care Hospitals self-supporting.
5,280 patients, 240 surgery referrals, and 3,000 prescription sales every year make each Vision Center supporting those Eye Care Hospitals sustainable.
Visualiza is even enduring the COVID-19 pandemic by creating
supplemental income streams like home pharmacy delivery and no-contact eyeglasses repair.
Lasting, meaningful help comes from giving
people tools to help themselves.
Reaching Every Man, Woman, and Child In Need
Now we’re ready to roll this model out across all of Guatemala!
Every man, woman, and child in Guatemala will have access to high-quality, comprehensive, and affordable eye care by 2032.
Visualiza will end treatable blindness among 18 million of the world’s poorest people!
Our 10-year, $54 million social service enterprise eye care network
– spanning an entire developing country –
will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world!
We need $10 million to start the national expansion. We have $2 million in lead pledges already.
Vision for the Poor Makes Every Gift = New Eyesight for many Guatemalans
Board of Directors
Douglas Villella, OD
Optometrist, Business Owner
Linda Boss, Optician
Frank Villa, OD
Joseph L. Coffey
Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of
Military Services for the USA
Mariano Yee, MD
Visualiza Ophthalmologist & Medical Director
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Nicolás Yee, MD
Guatemala City, Guatemala