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Our Projects

Mission Trips

The international eye institute plans and executes at least two mission trips annually.  Most of our work today focuses on Central America, but our teams have reached diverse countries including Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Ghana, India and China.  Our dedicated teams include highly skilled surgeons, nurses, and support staff who donate their time and expertise to serve those most in need.  Most of our volunteers pay for their own travel and lodging allowing us to apply donated funds directly to patient care. Our teams typically perform between 60-100 sight restoring surgeries on each trip. Over the past 15 years, this collective effort has resulted in over 2,000 surgeries, amounting to an estimated $3.5 million of donated care. We love seeing the way our work transforms the lives of our patients and their family members. 


In 2022 the International Eye Institute partnered with local ophthalmologist Dr. Julio De Leon to sponsor a fellowship training program, teaching graduated ophthalmic residents modern cataract surgery (Phacoemulsification). We contribute 50% of the fellow's salary and provide a fully equipped clinic and surgical facility at our partner hospital, Hospitalito Atitlan. The fellow runs a clinic providing broad spectrum eye care to the community of Santiago, Atitlan. Dr. De Leon and the fellow conduct discounted cataract surgeries for surgical patients once a month. Patients that cannot afford subsidized surgery are put on a list to be operated on by our mission teams. Partnering with Dr. De Leon and his fellowship program has increased the quality of care we provide, and multiplied our efforts to eliminate preventable blindness.  We estimate that each fellow that graduates from our program has the capacity to match the efforts of our entire organization. 

Originally from El Salvador, Dr. Eduardo Ventura completed his ophthalmology residency in Guatemala. Due to the lack of patients able to afford eye surgery, it is difficult for residents to gain the volume necessary to be a proficient surgeon.  When Dr. Ventura started his fellowship with us he lacked proficiency in modern cataract surgery. Under the careful mentorship of Dr. De Leon, with proper equipment and funding for patients to receive surgery, he quickly gained the requisite experience. He has completed over 240 cataract surgeries during his fellowship, and has developed into a talented surgeon.

During our Nov 2023 mission trip, he operated independently alongside our experienced surgeons, competently tackling some of the most difficult surgeries any eye surgeon will ever face. When he returns to his hometown (the third largest city in El Salvador), he will be one of only a few surgeons trained in modern cataract surgery.

Meet Our Fellow

Dr. Ventura

Phaco Program

One of the challenges faced by fellows graduating from our program is having access to the technology necessary to practice modern cataract surgery. Consistent with our goal to invest in the local delivery of care, we established a partnership with the Oertli phaco technology company in 2023.  The Oertli Catarhex 3, is a highly reliable machine well equiped to deliver world class surgery while handling the demands of operating in developing countries.  In 2023, Oertli demonstrated their commitment by donating a machine to our fellowship program. Thanks to a generous grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation's Southern Eye Bank Foundation (, we've committed to purchasing an Oertli machine for each fellow entering our program. As part of the arrangement, the fellow undergoes training on the machine.  On graduation, the machine is loaned to the fellow. This remarkable initiative encourages the fellow to pay forward this invaluable gift through a credit system earned by providing free/subsidized surgery to 100 patients, engaging the fellow in charitable outreach and expanding the reach of our program.

Over the last decade, our efforts have resulted in transporting and outfitting one of the best ophthalmic surgery centers in the region. This center has operating microscopes, Phaco machines, A-scans, IOL master, slit lamps, and an array of surgical devices. These advancements enable us to safely conduct surgeries in an environment that poses some of the most challenging eye surgeries worldwide.

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