Eye Glass Center

BASIC Nicaragua and VOSH Southeast partnership

Since 2014, VOSH Southeast and BASIC Nicaragua have been partnering together in Nicaragua.

During this time, we have accomplished these awesome things together:

  • 25 vision clinics held in 25 different locations around the country
  • served 18,698 patients in vision clinics
  • dispensed 20,379 pairs of glasses
  • 57 optometry students have shadowed licensed optometrists in clinics
  • 59 different optometrists have participated in vision clinics

BASIC Nicaragua optical lab

In 2009, BASIC started pursuing the idea of opening a permanent optical lab in Nicaragua. Bringing glasses through customs on every trip is always a challenge and a guaranteed extra review of luggage before being released through customs. Over the years, we’ve had equipment and glasses confiscated, having to pay fees to have it released after spending hours filling out paperwork and waiting for approval.

On February 1, 2014, BASIC Nicaragua’s optical lab became operational in a room at the Mission Centre of the Lutheran Church of Canada Central American Headquarters in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Jorge Garcia was our first trained optician. He had a deep enthusiasm to learn from Dr. Eddie Holcombe, OD. Dr. Eddie made several trips per year to continue Jorge’s education and training, continuing to expand his knowledge base. At one point, Jorge was so productive he ran out of raw material to make additional glasses and had to wait while another shipment of lens blanks and frames arrived via cargo container.

In 2015, BASIC was asked to move the optical lab out of the Mission Centre property as they reallocated assets. In short order, we found a house to rent in Santa Patricia and moved the entire optical lab in a day. The location was quite ideal as it was in proximity to the church in Santa Patricia and offered storage space for all the construction supplies that for years had been stored at Odily’s house in her back yard. Our independence was growing.

The following year, we had to make a change in personnel. In 2016 we closed the optical lab for 6 months while we regrouped and identified Franklin Martinez as our next optician. Franklin is a master carpenter and has made the windows (and doors in the early years) for our houses we built. Franklin has a great technical skill that applied well to making glasses. Over the next three years, Franklin produced more completed eyeglasses than we ever thought imaginable.

BASIC Nicaragua purchased a piece of property in Santa Patricia on September 1, 2017 and in November a small team went down to oversee the construction of our new permanent optical lab. Franklin custom made us a one-of-a-kind lens cabinet to store all the lenses properly. In February 2018, we moved our optical clinic into the new permanent location allowing more work space and storage for future inventory. To date, we have 11,500 pairs of glasses made, ready for use or to sell.

Due to the economy and lack of vision clinics in the country had to terminate the optical lab operations. Once vision mission teams return to Nicaragua, we plan to re-open the optical lab again.


BASIC Nicaragua and Foniprece partnership

Since 2015 BASIC and VOSH Southeast has been partnering with Foniprece (La Fundacion Oftalmologica Nicaraguense para la prevencion de la ceguerain) in Managua.


Their foundation is able to deeply discount eye surgeries to help the impoverished people of Nicaragua. Foniprece has 3 full-time opthalmologists who perform the surgeries.


Foniprece has received IOL’s (Intraocular Lenses) and donated medications from BASIC’s vision groups.  This has helped offset the costs that need to be fundraised for each patient. BASIC and VOSH Southeast was able to provide transportation, lodging, surgery and follow-up care for 71 patients.


Starting in February 2018, Foniprece became the official host of BASIC Nicaragua and VOSH Southeast for registering with MINSA (Ministry of Health). This is a true partnership and solidifies the relationship we have been building. Foniprece partners with all other VOSH chapters in Nicaragua for surgical referrals and the Optometry School in Managua. 

Over the years, we have experienced some compelling stories that stick with us forever. This is a story of Eduardo, a patient on the first mission trip back in 2004. His story had an impact on many of us and motivated us to do more:

Giving hope to the hopeless

Later in the morning, before lunchtime, our poster child came through the door.  Eduardo was a 5-year-old boy, being carried by his mother.  He was beautiful in his skin, dimples, and his innocence.  He did not walk well because he had no sense of balance.  When I first looked at him, he reminded me of Stevie Wonder.  His eyes constantly fluttered, never stopping, never still.  One eye looked almost glazed over, but yet they were the most beautiful color green.  He was constantly searching, searching, searching with his eyes, but could never focus on anything.  He was in a world where he couldn’t see.  To make things worse, communicating with Eduardo was more than the average challenge.  His attention span was limited because he was always trying to see and focus, he didn’t know his numbers, colors, shapes, or letters.  Lester found some flashcards from the school with simplistic pictures of a cat, apple, dog, and letters.  I found a pair of glasses that looked like they might be a match for his strong prescription.  What’s better is they weren’t big and bulky.   They were attractive glasses for a cute little boy.  We put them on Eduardo’s face as he sat in his mother’s lap.  Immediately he started looking, looking, looking again.  Trying to see, trying to focus.  Lester covered up all the items on the flashcard with his hands except for a cat.  He kept saying, “Eduardo, what is this?  Eduardo, do you know what that is?  Eduardo, can you see it?”  The little boy kept guessing at the color and the cat, but he was just guessing.  He didn’t know black from white, cat from dog.  Then, Eduardo said, “WATCH!”  We all looked and Lester was wearing a watch on his wrist that was covering up the flashcard.  Lester and I looked at each other with smiles and I quickly asked Lester to see if Eduardo could see his mother.  Lester said, “Eduardo, can you see your mom?”  Eduardo, ever so carefully, turned around in his mother’s lap and looked at her smiling face.  With great enthusiasm he said, “My MOM-my!!”  I started to tear up.  His mother could not stop smiling.  Lester and I looked at each other.  Could it be he could see?  All on his own, for the first time, Eduardo started to crawl down from his mother’s lap and stood in the middle of the room on his own.  He started to slowly turn around and then he said something twice in a row.  I looked at Lester and he had this blank look on his face.  “What??  What is wrong?”  I asked him.   Lester said, “He just said I can SEE, I can SEE!”  I started to cry.  This beautiful boy with the biggest deepest dimples and the most beautiful smile was seeing for the first time.  He had a sense of balance, and he now knew the face that went with the voice that nurtured him all of his days.  We soon found out that she had walked 3 hours with her son to come see us.  Immediately our group took action.  Within 10 minutes we had a plastic bag for her and her son.  It was a mix of things we had all brought for ourselves: trail mix, peanut butter, water, a Sprite, cheese curls, crackers, fruit cocktail, and more.  This was the least we could do to make sure she made it back home.  We didn’t want Eduardo to leave.  We all took turns having our pictures taken with him.   He was our poster child.  That is what the whole trip was all about and it all became worth it in that moment.