A small group of strangers who rapidly became friends, saw a need and gained a vision in 1985. This was the beginning of Vision Aid Overseas.


Vision Aid Overseas was founded in 1985 by a group of Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians led by our now Honorary Vice President, Brian Ellis MBE. They were horrified by the additional struggle of people in developing countries who were disabled or disadvantaged by poor eyesight simply because they did not have access to affordable eye tests and glasses



A shift in focus since 1985

Since the foundation of Vision Aid Overseas, there has been a shift in focus across the developing world, from Aid to Development. In the past, patients in the countries where we worked would receive used glasses, closest to their prescription, kindly donated by the UK public. Today, Vision Aid Overseas is still supported by UK eye care professionals and a caring public but now, we focus on providing a sustainable solution that delivers affordable eye care services, from locally trained eye care professionals, and low cost brand new glasses to patients in need. We provide Vision Centres and outreach services within reachable distance to some of Africa’s most isolated and neglected communities. To find out more about how we work click here.


A few words from the Founder

Brian Ellis, MBE- Founder said: 

Unlike Civil Engineers, Agriculturalists and others who must commit several months to achieving change, Optical Professionals have the privilege of being able, in the course of a few days and hours, to make a change and better the life of someone in a developing country by enabling them to see clearly.  But that brings with it the responsibility of exercising the privilege and volunteering for a short assignment with Vision Aid Overseas. 


Read the first 25 years of Vision Aid Overseas

Jambo’ (hello)
‘Jambo, Habari?’ (hello, how are)
‘Nzuri sana.’ (very good thanks)

Few British optometrists are fluent in Swahili but, for a small group of Volunteers recently returned from working in free eye camps in Tanzania, those opening phrases will recall the friendly greetings exchanged at the commencement of one of the many thousands of eye examinations performed. - Brian Ellis, Founder

To read the full story of the first 25 years of Vision Aid Overseas, email [email protected] and we will send you a digital copy.