In 1985, a small group of strangers quickly became friends, united by a joint goal to improve access to eye care services for all, 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. The group were shocked by the number of people, especially children, who were disabled and disadvantaged by poor eyesight simply due to the lack of access to affordable eye tests and glasses. 


A shift in focus since 1985

Since the foundation of Vision Aid Overseas, we have shifted our focus from aid to development. In the past, patients in our programme countries would receive second-hand glasses closest to their prescription kindly donated by the UK public.

Whilst Vision Aid Overseas is still supported by UK eye care professionals and a caring public, we now focus on providing a sustainable solution that delivers affordable eye care services and new, low-cost prescription glasses from locally trained eye care professionals to patients in need.To find out more about how we work click here.

We have also changed in that we no longer send donated second-hand glasses overseas. We stopped this in 2010 when the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness recommended that sending second-hand glasses overseas was not the best way to establish sustainable eye care in developing countries. Instead, we recycle donated second-hand glasses and sell any retro or vintage glasses. The income generated through this recycling process is then used to support our work overseas, where we provide brand-new glasses and affordable eye care services.



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. 



Read the first 25 years of Vision Aid Overseas

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.