SVOSH Humanitarian Trip: Over 1,000 People Helped in Mexico

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to support a mission trip to Puerto Vallarta and Talpa de Allende, Mexico through a donation of 300 readers and 100 sunglasses.

Shelby Brendel, a second year optometry student from Marshall B. Ketchum University’s Southern California College of Optometry, along with four other optometry students and faculty member Dr. Corina van de Pol, traveled to Mexico for an SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) humanitarian trip.

In partnership with Lions in Sight, they held clinics for underprivileged communities in Puerto Vallarta and Talpa de Allende, providing comprehensive eye exams, glasses and referrals to a local ophthalmologist. In just four days of clinic, they were able to help 1,300 people! This included the distribution of roughly 1,500 pairs of either glasses, sunglasses or both.

TestimonialLittle girl in Mexico

Shelby Brendel says:

“As a second year optometry student, this mission trip was an unbelievably educating experience. Not only was I able to evaluate extremely advanced diseases but I was also able to perfect my optometric craft on hundreds of patients, all while helping give back to these communities, wherever possible. The need for eye exams and glasses in these areas was extremely high and the patients were very appreciative. Throughout the entire mission trip, we were constantly met with warm, appreciative and thankful individuals, and in return we were able to make each of their lives a little better.”

She adds:

Volunteer with Children in Mexico“One particularly unique exam was on a 15-year-old girl that came through our second day of clinic. Upon evaluation, I spotted some abnormal pigment on the retina. As I have not finished my disease courses yet, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. My supervising doctor took over the exam and it was concluded that the patient suffers from retinitis pigmentosa (an eye disease in which the retina is damaged – a disease many graduating students at my school have yet to encounter).

She had never had an eye exam before, and we were the first people to inform her of the condition, which in many cases can result in blindness. We were able to refer her to a local ophthalmologist who will be helping the family for free. While the girl and her mother were shocked at the news they were extremely fortunate that they now have the chance to receive proper treatment for her condition.”


Lisa Aultman

Lisa Aultman

Philanthropic Programs Coordinator at National Vision, Inc.
Lisa Aultman has worked with NVI since 2014. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Food and Nutrition and a Master's Degree in Health Studies from The University of Alabama. Lisa has a passion for helping others. She enjoys working on corporate philanthropic programs, spreading health and wellness knowledge in the workplace and coordinating employee appreciation events.
Lisa Aultman