Who are we?

We are optometrists, ophthalmologists, medical personnel and trained lay persons who have no political or religious agenda. Yet, we work with religious or government groups who are committed to tolerance. VOSH/International is the voice of 27 chapters and 17 student chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras and the Netherlands. Volunteers pay their own way and derive satisfaction from helping others. Many of us return year after year.

VOSH is proof positive that one man’s dream can be a catalyst for international good. Hundreds of thousands of people have been helped and there are millions more to reach… one at a time.


VOSH-CA founders Dr. Greg Pearl and Dr. David Krasnow in a makeshift exam room circa 1988

How VOSH California was established

VOSH/California  VOSH/California was established in 1988 by four optometrists, Dr. Greg Pearl, Dr. David Krasnow, Dr. Barry Leonard and Dr. Neil Mietus. Dr. David Eldridge joined the founders group a little later. Together they decided to join the network of OD’s providing eye care services to needy populations around the world. Since the first trip to Costa Rica in 1989, VOSH/Cal has conducted over 50 missions to 14 countries and provided services to over 300,000 patients. During that time VOSH/Cal has donated over $11.0 million in medicine, equipment, supplies and services to countries in Central and South America and Asia. In addition, VOSH/Cal has worked diligently to incorporate student VOSH chapters in its programs. Participating schools include. SUNY, NEWENCO, SCCO, Indiana, Illinois, UC Berkeley, Pacific and Alabama.


VOSH-CA founder Dr. Barry Leonard circa 1988.

How VOSH International got started

Dr. Franklin Harms, an optometrist from Kansas, founded VOSH in 1972.  His basic idea was to collect a library of used eyeglasses and distribute them in the areas of the world where eye care is unavailable.

What was once a simple state project has evolved into a rapidly  expanding organization.  There is a continually growing number of individual state and foreign chapters. Most optometry schools have student chapters (sVOSH) encompassing the domestic, foreign and student chapters in VOSH International   VOSH chapters are registered non-profit organizations which have a board of directors and advisory committees.

On December 6, 2001 VOSH/International signed a declaration with the World Council of Optometry and the World Health Organization to eliminate avoidable blindness the year 2020.

The need for eye care in underdeveloped nations where wages may be less than $1.00 a day is overwhelming. Our objective is to improve people’s vision so they can be more productive and enjoy a better quality of life. We are committed to this task.

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