Guatemala Brillando
Brighter Guatemala

A 10-year plan to end avoidable blindness in Guatemala

Watch Conversations with Kate: Guatemala Brillando hosted by the renowned journalist and radio host, Rose Aguilar.


Get Seva's stories.

   Please leave this field empty

Seva's Drivers for Success


Vision Centers

Seva and partners have established 71 Primary Eye Care Vision Centers globally. These provide an entry point to eye care, an extension of eye hospitals with 1-3 trained staff who perform eye exams, refraction, glasses, and referral to hospitals.



Seva and partners provide formal and informal training of ophthalmologists, allied ophthalmic personnel, and administrators. Seva and partners have developed and expanded Eyexcel and supported training of 662 clinicians and administrators.



Seva focusses on eye care screenings for children in and out of school and provides surgery, glasses and treatment with a continuum of care.



Seva's focus is on patient care with prevention, detection and follow-up; information management; and distance learning. Seva has installed electronic management systems in more than 20 hospitals across India.

Watch the video above to see how patients regain not just their sight, but also their independence and their future.

Share our vision

Country focus: Guatemala

The Problem

For impoverished people in the developing world, blindness or debilitating visual impairment are effectively a life sentence. Isolation from work and community activities steals their potential contributions. A loss of sight for one can trigger an economic crisis for the family.

Today, almost 650,000 Guatemalans suffer vision loss from treatable conditions. Yet most serious visual impairment can be solved with a simple 10-minute operation for cataracts — or a pair of eyeglasses. Existing service networks are not efficient enough to meet the demand. Travel to distant cities is an insurmountable barrier to the rural poor, including indigenous persons.

Affordable treatments exist for cataracts and other causes of preventable blindness. The problem is access to treatment.

Our solution

The Global Sight Initiative (GSI) is Seva’s proven eye care delivery model comprised of collaborating international NGOs, mentor institutions and mentee hospitals. Each member plays a pivotal role in reaching our shared goal of eliminating preventable and curable blindness. One distinctive feature of the GSI is the use of trained paraprofessionals. This frees ophthalmologists to focus on surgeries and other complex procedures. The regional GSI care systems will increase access to eye care. Expanded efficiency and productivity will build capacity … and meet the need in Guatemala.

In Guatemala, Seva is poised to:

  1. Establish five new hospitals and 30 vision centers, bringing primary eye care to rural and other areas that are currently severely underserved.
  2. Train providers in high-volume methods that optimize eye care delivery, including the employment of trained paraprofessionals in assistive roles to dramatically increase the productivity of ophthalmologists.
  3. Build out the local supply chain for affordable glasses and supplies.
  4. Deploy intensive outreach/marketing. Increased awareness and trust will create the demand necessary for a sustainable high-volume system.
  5. Introduce emerging technology. An agile and adaptive data practice is a core design element that will both accelerate and demonstrate impact through access to real-time field data.

Scaling success across the Americas

With $55 MILLION, Seva's GSI model can be scaled in Guatemala. It will not only restore and preserve sight for Guatemalans who suffer from cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other increasingly common conditions but also give them back their dignity and their independence. The impact on their families and communities would be multi-fold as they become able to study, work and lift themselves out of poverty.

Together with our partners, Seva is poised to eliminate preventable blindness in Guatemala within ten years. The blueprint we create will equip us to scale our evidence-based Global Sight Initiative (GSI) throughout Latin America.


A $1 MILLION INVESTMENT SUPPORTS SEVA in planting the initial seeds of a new local eye care system in Guatemala by establishing three PECVCs in three different departments of the Sur Occidente area:

  • 500,000 people receive access to basic primary eye care through telemedicine.
  • Three PECVCs established.
  • Essential prerequisites for launch of local eye care system completed, i.e., feasibility and Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) studies.

A $5 MILLION INVESTMENT SUPPORTS SEVA in establishing the first local node in the national eye care system – a local eye care system serving the Sur Occidente area:

  • 3.9 million people receive access to primary eye care and more highly specialized in-hospital care as needed.
  • One hospital and five PECVCs established.
  • Essential prerequisites for launch of local eye care system completed, i.e., feasibility and Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) studies.
  • Documentation of local system build-out completed for scaling playbook.

A $10 MILLION INVESTMENT SUPPORTS SEVA in creating the first regional node in the national eye care system – an eye care system serving both the northern and southern parts of the Occidente region.

  • 6.2 million people receive access to primary eye care and more highly specialized in-hospital care as needed.
  • Two hospitals and 12 PECVCs established.
  • Essential prerequisites for launch of regional eye care system completed, i.e., feasibility and Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) studies.
  • Upgrade to Visualiza’s Center of Excellence completed.
  • Documentation of regional system build-out completed for scaling playbook.


Seva's Partner in Guatemala: Visualiza

Visualiza Clínica Médica Oftalmológica, known simply as Visualiza, is a leading eye hospital in Guatemala and the rural Petén region. Visualiza works to prevent and cure blindness caused by major conditions including cataract and refractive errors. Founded in 1997, the hospital has been actively refining its unique community-oriented low cost and free service system. Although Visualiza employs only 4% of the nation’s ophthalmologists, the organization performs over 36% of all cataract surgeries in Guatemala. Visualiza’s hospitals provide private care alongside free vision services for their low-income patients.

Seva has been partners with Visualiza since 2006. Seva works with Visualiza to spread their model of universal access to service. Through the Global Sight Initiative, Visualiza serves as a mentor to five mentee hospitals in Latin America. Through Focusing Philanthropy’s World Sight Day campaigns, Seva provides direct support for Vizualiza's clinical services and school screenings that help reduce avoidable blindness across Guatemala and restore sight to some of the country's most vulnerable populations, including women and children in rural communities. Seva is committed to augmenting Visualiza's service capacity with a focus on local staff development and management training. With Seva's ongoing support for skill-based training, Visualiza has become a resource to improve other eye care centers in Latin America.

Seva's Partner: Vision for the Poor

For 25 years, Vision For the Poor has built sustainable eye care hospitals, empowered local eye care specialists, and funded essential ophthalmic infrastructure, serving over 150,000 patients in Guatemala every year.


Seva's work with Native Communities in the USA

American Indians suffer disproportionately from higher rates of preventable and treatable eye conditions due to a lack of access to affordable, quality eye care. Some of the most prominent barriers to care include poverty, geographic isolation, and the lack of linguistically and culturally appropriate eye care providers.

Seva’s goal with the American Indian Sight Initiative (AISI) is to improve eye health through collaborative, locally based partnerships. We focus on the most common and treatable eye health issues found in American Indian communities including the need for eye health screening, medical treatment, and eyeglasses. With local partners in New Mexico, Alaska, Washington, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, we are reducing the barriers to quality eye care in American Indian communities.

Last year, one of Seva’s AISI partners, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), provided care to more than 20,000 Native American patients in central Oklahoma. Among them was Skyler, a 22-year woman who was struggling with frequent headaches and poor vision. This led to many missed days of work and impacted her performance on the job. Despite having had these issues for some time, Skyler had not been able to get an eye exam for over five years because of stringent restrictions at her local eye care provider, which allowed care for only minor children, or senior citizens.

Through the partnership with Seva, OKCIC was able to expand their capacity for treatment by 33%, and allowed them to offer new services, including contact lenses. This in turn enabled OKCIC to drop patient restrictions and opened the door for Skyler to receive care. Since receiving her new pair of glasses, Skyler reports that her vision has vastly improved and now she can work all day on her computer without getting headaches.


Francísca: A Fresh Start

By the time Francísca celebrated her sixteenth birthday, her world had become blurry and difficult to navigate. Learn how Francísca's future looks much brighter now that she can see clearly.

Share our vision

Don't miss out on more good news.


Sign up today and get life transforming stories and event announcements.

* We won't share your email and you can unsubscribe at any time.

GuideStar Holiday Impact Prize Charity Navigator InterAction BBB Accredited Charity The Life You Can Save

Follow Seva:

Seva Foundation Seva Foundation Seva Foundation Seva Foundation Seva Foundation

Contact Us | Search | State Disclosures | Privacy Policy | Job Opportunities | Sign In

Seva Foundation 1786 Fifth Street Berkeley, CA 94710 phone: 510-845-7382 fax: 510-809-3364
Seva Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. © 2023 Seva Foundation. All rights reserved.