President’s Insight

Optometry: A “Giving” Career

In this season of giving, it becomes a time of reflection about our lives and being thankful for what we have.  We can also reflect on how to give back, how we can make an impact.  It is important to give monetary support, but it is equally important to give of yourself and your time.  If you can help, help others with whatever special skills you have. 

Giving money is very impactful.  Within the optometric profession there are many organizations to donate money to make a difference.  Find one that you support and donate.  VOSH/International can be one of those organizations.   Donated money goes 100% to VOSH/International projects.  These projects include local and international efforts.  Locally, money can help to provide support and loaned equipment to VOSH chapters and student involvement.  International projects include supporting optometric education at newly established optometry schools in developing countries through VOSH Corps.  VOSH Corps is a program where North American trained optometrists become faculty members at the newly established optometry schools.  VOSH/International also supports these developing optometry schools with equipment through the Technology Transfer Program (TTP).

Giving of your time is also very impactful.  The ability to see enables social interaction, education, employment.  Without vision these things become much more difficult.  It is easy as an optometrist to use our skills to help others.  Eye examinations, prescription of glasses, detection and treatment of eye conditions, detection of medical conditions through eye signs is what we do.  We don’t always remember the impact you can have on someone’s life, it can be profound.  Volunteer with your local VOSH chapter.   VOSH clinic trips can happen internationally or in your own community.  Some local VOSH activities include: clinics for populations at risk (homeless, refugees, uninsured, single mothers, struggling families), screening for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, educational talks at schools, nursing homes, etc.  Find the way that works for you to be involved and jump in!

Recap of the VOSH 25th Annual Meeting

VOSH/International hosted its 25th annual meeting on October 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  Ninety- two people attended a full day of speakers, breakout sessions, exhibitors and networking. There were speakers from around the world including the USA, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam, El Salvador and Nicaragua. These speakers highlighted how VOSH/International and VOSH chapters have truly become an international force for optometry by providing care with local optometry and helping to educate optometry students in new optometry schools.  As VOSH moves to collaborates with local optometry and health care, our impact has become greater.

Also at the Annual Meeting, there were two awards given for exemplary service.  The Humanitarian of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Sandra Bury of Oak Lawn, Illinois.  Dr. Bury has been active in VOSH-Illinois since 1995.  She participates in both local and international clinic trips and, in addition, Dr. Bury is the mayor of her town.

The Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Ellis Potter. Dr. Potter has had a lifetime of service as a Boy Scout, Rotarian and Optometrist.  Notably, Dr. Potter also became the first ever recipient of the American Academy of Optometry’s Brien Holden Humanitarian Award.  He received this award at the 2017 AAO meeting immediately preceding the VOSH/International meeting. To read Dr. Potter’s powerful remarks when accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, please click here.

Both Drs. Bury and Potter are classic examples of the people involved in VOSH.  People with big hearts that have volunteerism as an essential part of who they are.  These two and the other nominees for the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Awards, David McPhillips, OD, Walter Branson, Bud Falkenhain, OD, Lawrence Hauler, and David Stacy, OD, remind us of what we can be doing to help others.  Dr. Bury reminded us to have “service about self” and Dr. Potter challenged us to “think big…We have done much, but we could do more.”  Words to inspire us as we all continue in our own efforts.   

Mark your calendars for the next VOSH Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada on October 12-14, 2018.  Our theme at this meeting will be “United VOSH”, demonstrating the good we can do when working together.

VOSH Represented at the WCO Meeting in India

President-Elect Tracy Matchinski and I had the honor of representing VOSH at the World Council of Optometry (WCO) meeting on September 11-13, 2017 in Hyderabad, India. The World Council of Optometry represents optometrist throughout the world and advocates for the advancement of the profession. It’s always educational to me to interact with other organizations that represent optometry on a global basis, especially in developing countries where optometry clinics may be scarce, schools of optometry may not exist, or optometry is not recognized as a profession.

The WCO meeting offered a wide variety of excellent continuing education classes. Doctor Matchinski and I presented a course titled “Evaluation and Management of pediatric patients with visual impairment and pediatric patients with special needs” and also a Poster on the progress of our VOSH Corps program. One highlight of the trip was when our VOSH Philippine Chapter saw on Facebook that we were attending the meeting and found us in the exhibit hall to say hello. It’s always a pleasure visiting with our chapters, especially those international ones that we rarely have a chance to connect with personally. 

After the meeting, Dr. Matchinski spent two days lecturing at the LV Prasad Eye Institute symposium to optometrist from many different countries. Thanks to Dr. Vijaya Gothwal and her co-workers for touring me through their state of the art facility.

I look forward to seeing you at the VOSH Annual Meeting in Chicago on Saturday, October 14, where our theme “Winning Together” reflects my belief in our strength in numbers.