SFS Focometer Program


A focometer is an instrument used to measure visual refractive errors; nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatisms. This tool is handheld and can be as accurate as an autorefractor (an automated, computer controlled machine that also tests for visual refraction errors). A focometer is useful in places where standard methods, like an autorefractor, cannot be used due to limited transportation or electricity.

Surgeons for Sight utilizes this tool for our Focometer Program where we equip existing mission teams to provide eye care clinics to individuals who they would have already been serving. Churches and organizations going on mission trips can partake in this program and help combat the lack of eye care available in the countries they are visiting. Surgeons for Sight also provides these groups with all of the equipment they would need to provide their clinic, like eyeglasses, eye charts, pinhole occluders, and an eye patch. Forty three percent of visual impairments can be attributed to uncorrected refractive error (approximately 153 million people as of 2013) (WHO). As of 2006, 45 million working-age adults worldwide were affected by uncorrected refractive error (WHO). Through participating in the Focometer Program, mission teams help combat the issue of uncorrected vision throughout the world.

You do not have to be medically trained to use a focometer. Here’s how it works:

To obtain a reading using a focometer, a patient will stand 20 feet in front of an eye chart. The patient will then look through the focometer with one eye while the other is covered with an eye patch. They will begin adjusting the instrument clockwise (like binoculars) until the object they are looking at becomes clear. The focometer has a scale on the side called the diopter scale. After the patient’s vision is clear, the point where the rotating collar crosses the diopter scale is the nearest value of the refractive error. There are plus and minus signs in front of the numbers on the scale which represent far vision (plus sign) and near vision (minus sign). If the scale reads 0, then the individual has no refractive error.

Here are some stories from a mission team that utilized Surgeons for Sight’s Focometer Program:

A team from WoodCreek Dental went to Ecuador in July of 2015.  Jody, a member of this trip, accounts that the team was able to see around 90 people and distributed 50 pairs of glasses. “I helped in the eye clinic on the trip to the dry small and remote village of Pachancho, Ecuador. It was located in the high Andes mountains at 13,600 ft which we traveled 25 minutes every day down a dirt road to get there. The language spoken was a blend of Spanish and Quichan. Many of the older people didn’t read or know their alphabet. We passed the great Chimborazo volcano every day on our way there. We worked alongside dental services, and a shoe ministry on our last day there.” Jody explained that while assessing people’s vision they also found evidences of several pterygiums, a fleshy tissue on the white of the eye. The team was surprised when pterygiums were seen on those at all ages, even as young as 11 years old. Cataracts also plagued many of the older patients. At the end of the clinic, those who received glasses were so thankful to be given the gift of clearer vision.


The team from WoodCreek Dental in Ecuador.





The road to get to the village.


A child from the village in Ecuador using the Focomoter.


If you would like to participate in the Focometer Program please contact us at nterlitsky@surgeonsforsight.org for more information.

Meet the Interns: First Vision Screening

During the summer, Surgeons for Sight has interns join our team to help provide the gift of sight to more individuals in need. Two of our summer interns, Meg and Colette, recently took part in one of our local screenings. We want to introduce you to these lovely ladies and let you hear their thoughts from their first experience on the mobile vision van.

Meg McNair is a rising junior at Clemson University and is majoring in marketing. This summer, Meg will be processing patient applications and interviewing clients about their eye care needs. She is also developing partnerships for possible mobile vision screening locations in the upstate.

Colette Terlitsky is a rising junior at Clemson University and is majoring in industrial engineering and minoring in psychology. This summer, Colette will be working on recruiting volunteers and establishing a database of Surgeons for Sight Supporters.


Meg (left) and Colette (right)

Meg and Colette recently took part in a local screening at Taylors Free Medical Clinic. Here are their thoughts from their first experience on the mobile vision van:

Meg- During my first screening, I helped with the distance and near visual acuity stations. For the reading station, I would sit with patients at a table and have them read words or numbers to me from a handheld chart. Then, I would have them try on reading glasses to see if they could see more clearly. My favorite part was having patients try on reading glasses, and watching their faces light up as they were able to read smaller and smaller print. It’s amazing to me just how much can be accomplished simply by providing a pair of reading glasses to someone in need.



Meg screening a patient at the distance visual acuity station.

Colette- At the screening, I was able to see firsthand the impact that Surgeons for Sight has. We often take access to eye care for granted, but for many people that come to Surgeons for Sight, they are not as fortunate. When I was testing distance vision, many people at the screening were discouraged because they were not able to see the letters on the chart. I was very encouraged because after the screening, some of these individuals who would not normally be able to afford eye care, could receive further care through the volunteer physicians with Surgeons for Sight. By bettering their eyesight, these individuals could then see to work again and improve their quality of life.


Colette helping a patient with the near visual acuity station.

If you are interested in learning more about our local vision screenings, or would like to host one in your community, you can find more information at http://www.surgeonsforsight.org/what-we-do/local/ .


From right to left: Kit, Victoria, Colette, Meg, and Natalie.

A Glimpse into the DR: February 2nd-7th 2016

Surgeons for Sight sent a team to the Dominican Republic in February of this year to provide eye care and cataract surgeries to individuals who could not afford eye care. During the trip, we partnered with the Dr. Elias Santana Hospital ophthalmology clinic in Villa Hermosa, La Romana. At the clinic, we worked closely with the staff and resident ophthalmologist to ensure 15 individuals received cataract surgeries and were given the best possible care. The team also went into the sugar cane fields to provide screenings, exams, and glasses to those in the bateyes. Many people who live in the bateyes are Haitian immigrants, who come to the Dominican Republic for a better life but are often met with intense poverty. During our time in the bateyes, we screened 49 individuals, gave out 31 readers, and 2 distance eyeglasses. We hope to return to the Dominican Republic soon to take care of the cataracts that we found while in this batey.

God was truly at work in the Dominican Republic. During this trip, we encountered numerous people with amazing stories. One woman who came to our screening in the batey was from Haiti. She asked that we pray that she would grow closer to God. Another woman who received cataract surgery was shaking from nervousness before her procedure. The team was able to pray with her and calm her enough to be able to go through with the surgery. Here are a few more snapshots from the trip…



Every patient that was seen in the DR was prayed over. It was amazing to experience that while we prayed for them, it was cultural for many of the people to pray over team at the same time.


After each surgery was complete, members of the team would gather around a patient and pray for them. This was a great way to share the love of God, as well as celebrate a successful procedure.


Dr. Lisa (middle), was a huge blessing to the team while they were in the DR. She is pictured here with Dr. Williams (left) and Dr. Stokes (right).


Our wonderful team! From left to right: Jennifer Reyes, Natalie Terlitsky, Dr. Stokes, Julie Pitney, Pamela Miller, Margaret Gill, Katie Williams, Smokey Hughes, Dr. Moore, Bradley Williams, and Dr. Williams.


Dr. Moore examining a patient during the screening in the bateyes.


This little boy was captured flying his kite during a screening in the bateyes.


This is Daniel, he left school at an early age to work on a farm in order to provide for his family. He never learned to read and did not know where his name came from. Before Daniel’s surgery, his blood pressure was tested and was too high to safely do the surgery. He had to wait for several hours to see if it would come down before he was allowed to go into surgery. While he waited, we read the story of Daniel to him from the Bible. After reading about Daniel, we checked his blood pressure again and his levels were finally low enough for him to receive surgery. Daniel now knows where his name comes from and has renewed sight.



New Beginnings in El Salvador

Surgeons for Sight sent a team to San Salvador, El Salvador for the first time during November. The team went to provide vision screenings and exams for the employees at a local manufacturing plant and their families. The country of El Salvador has experienced intense poverty and violence after their civil war during the 1980s. We wanted to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Salvadorian people who have gone through so much tragedy.

During the week we distributed glasses and drops to those who needed them. The team saw around 370 individuals in only three days. As we provided these individuals with eye care, we were also able to share with them about the love of Christ. We offered to pray with many of our patients and gave out several Bibles. We were blessed to be able to serve the people of El Salvador and make new friendships. Here are a few snapshots from the trip…


Our friends in El Salvador helped us with visual acuity tests.


The doctors performed several exams for patients who needed further support.


At the final station, we were able to provide prescription glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, drops, toys, and Bibles. We were also able to pray with patients.


We were so blessed to have a great team. They were dedicated and worked so hard during the trip!


On the last day of the trip we were able to visit a volcano. This is a picture of the crater.





News from Surgeons for Sight

DR guy with glasses (1)

WELCOME to Surgeons for Sight’s new blog! This page will be used to share stories form Surgeons for Sight’s projects, trips, and vision screenings. Somethings to look forward to hearing about include the experiences of the mission teams who were trained by SFS, stories of life change on SFS international trips, and the service provided on local vision screenings. Periodically we will also post requests for prayer or support in anticipation of our projects. We want you to feel connected to what God is doing here at Surgeons for Sight and give you the option of learning more about our efforts. Thank you for your interest in hearing our updates.