Get Involved with Hawaiian Eye Foundation

International Service Learning Expedition


The Hawaiian Eye Foundation is proud to announce the International Service Learning Expedition (ISLE) program for students and professionals!

ISLE, a volunteer program sponsored by the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, provides exciting new opportunities for youth and health professionals alike. If you have a passion to serve then we urge you to apply, regardless of age, skill level, or area of interest.

For students and non-healthcare professionals, this is a chance to learn about the medical field, witness a new culture, and to gain hands-on experience that is unavailable in the United States.

Medical professionals will be trained by world-renowned ophthalmic surgeon, Dr. Jeff Rutgard, the only full-time humanitarian eye surgeon. Dr. Rutgard’s unique cataract surgical procedures will teach frugality and efficiency unlike any other.


    All mini missions are one, two or three days long. These are quick trips that allow the busy individual to meet the team in San Diego, drive down to Mexico, and return home, all in the same day or weekend. These missions are currently conducted in El Fuerte, Tecate, and Tijuana, Mexico. For those who are unable to travel long distances, and for any first time HEF volunteers, we recommend this option. Prior to being invited on any regular mission, we prefer that surgeons and students attend a mini mission.


    Longer expeditions take place in further locations, including Bolivia (extra fee), Dominican Republic, Fiji and Palau. Expect to work every day. Depending on the country and patient load, weekends may be spent relaxing and enjoying the sights.


  • Fees are used to cover modest lodging, 2 meals per day, safe drinking water, and transportation within the country. All volunteers are responsible for their own visas, travelers’ insurance and roundtrip transportation to the set meeting point.
  • A guardian is required to accompany students ages 17 years and under. Parents assume all liability.
  • A 50% deposit is due at the time of reservation. The remaining 50% is due two weeks prior to departure. Partial scholarships may be available.

Mission trips are fun and rewarding, but they are not easy. We are there for a purpose and with such a short timeline, we ask for dedication, flexibility, and compassion. Aside from meal times, volunteers should expect to work all day, every day. If you volunteer for the sole purpose of serving others and learning, we promise a life-changing experience.

See our upcoming mission schedule

Join us in our efforts to care for the blind poor in underserved countries! Donate Application Form (PDF)

“Dr Rutgard was sought out by many of the lesser experienced surgeons because of his gentle and rewarding style of teaching. With his reasoning, helpful guidance and skills, each of us became better adept at the tasks presented.”


“Working with Jeff in resource- challenged surgical environments will make you a better surgeon anywhere.”


“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. This trip has opened my eyes and has allowed me to feel the joy and happiness one gets when helping others. I will always remember this experience in my first OR as I continue working my way to a medical career”



Stay Informed

Stay up-to-date with Hawaiian Eye Foundation. Get our latest news and updates by email:
PO BOX 23212,
Honolulu, HI 96823
Phone: (808) 201-3937
Hawaiian Eye Foundation is a division of Project Vision Hawaii.

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