Located in the eastern region of Africa, Ethiopia is a rapidly developing country and is quickly emerging from extreme poverty.


Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. It has a huge population of over 100 million people and yet it relies on just 300 qualified optometrists to look after the eye health needs of all its people. Despite having one of the fastest growing economies in the region, Ethiopia is still one of the lowest average incomes per person with many people lacking access to basic healthcare services.


Our work in focus

Child Eye Health

Between 2013 – 2016, VAO was funded by DfID and Essilor Ltd to help improve the livelihoods of people living in five districts of southern Ethiopia by increasing access to primary eye care, glasses and treatment for eye diseases.

Of the 2,569 children treated under our project, 73% showed improvements in their school performance since receiving treatment

Now, at VAO we are seeking funding partners to help deliver a new three-year school eye health programme to reduce visual impairment amongst children, thereby increasing their access to and retention in education. The pilot will take place in East Wollega, in Oromia – a rural area, with most people reliant upon smallholder farming. There is a high level of poverty and a lack of eye health facilities and awareness.

Our ambition is that over 60,000 children will be screened by teachers (of which 50% will be girls) at 103 schools.  All children that require glasses or other forms of treatment will be treated by visiting eyecare teams. Teachers will also be screened and treated to ensure they can effectively deliver their classes. 

A vision centre has been established at the referral hospital in Nekemte town which will make glasses to prescription for the school children and teachers, and also serve the wider population with eyecare services and glasses.

The need in this area is urgent, so we have already made a start, with thanks to funding from Essilor Ltd. From 2019, we are rolling out the programme to 20 schools and hope to add more schools as funding is secured. To this aim, we have launched our appeal ‘Support a School’.

Interested in knowing more or becoming a partner? Get in touch. 

Vision Centres and Outreach

Working in partnership with the Ethiopian non-government organisation (NGO), Grarbet Tehadiso Mahber (GTM), Vision Aid Overseas has supported the establishment of five Vision Centres across Ethiopia since 2001, enabling tens of thousands of people to receive eye tests and glasses, most for the first time in their lives.

Training and Education

Vision Aid Overseas supports final year optometry students at Hawassa University College of Health and Medical Sciences (UCHMS), and the University of Gondar, with training visits from professional volunteers on an annual basis.  We now also support the faculty staff with professional development training.


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