The foundation was incorporated in 1979 and adopted as a District 24-A (now District 24-L) project by the District Governor's Cabinet in 1980. The VLEI operates as a separate entity with the co-sponsorship of the Inova Health System. It is governed by a Board of Directors representing the Lions Clubs of District 24-L, community ophthalmologists, and the Inova Health Systems Foundation. The VLEI funds are used for the purchase of equipment, community education, scholarships, and clinical research. Equipment can be placed in not-for-profit hospitals anywhere in District 24-L.
Further, the VLEI supports symposia and continuing medical education for nurses and Para-professionals in the ophthalmic field. The VLEI recently instituted a scholarship award for sight handicapped individuals.