Tracy L. Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
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World Sight Day 2018: Eye Care Everywhere
Thursday October 11, 2018
World Sight Day (WSD) is observed annually on the second Thursday of October. It is a global event to draw attention to the problem of worldwide blindness and vision impairment. The aim of WSD is to increase public awareness around the world about prevention and treatment of vision loss. WSD was started by the Campaign SightFirst of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000 and has since been integrated into VISION 2020 and coordinated by The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO).
An estimated 180 million people worldwide are visually disabled. Of those, between 40 and 45 million persons are blind. Eighty percent of all cases of blindness can be prevented or treated. From the WHO website: “Prevention and treatment of vision loss are among the most cost-effective and successful of all health interventions. These interventions include: cataract surgery to cure this eye disease related to ageing; prevention of trachoma; provision of the drug ivermectin for the treatment of the infectious disease river blindness; immunization against measles; provision of vitamin A supplements for the prevention of childhood blindness; and provision of eyeglasses.”
The WHO Global Action Plan 2014-19 supports the provision of effective and accessible eye care services for effectively controlling visual impairment including blindness. The Global Action Plan’s vision states: “A world in which nobody is needlessly visually impaired, where those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential and where there is universal access to comprehensive eye care services.” Member States at the World Health Assembly (WHA) unanimously adopted this plan in 2013 as part of WHA resolution 66.4.
The annual World Sight Day provides an opportunity to become more aware and committed to ensuring the right to sight for all. Hundreds of events will take place throughout the world to mark this occasion. In 2017, IABP recorded 608 WSD events taking place in 115 countries. These events included awareness events, seminars, launches, donation drives, rallies and online events.
So what can we do? We can promote WSD and raise funds that will go towards the objectives of: increasing awareness of this public health issue; mobilizing additional resources for blindness prevention; controlling the major causes of avoidable blindness; training eye care doctors and professionals and providing appropriate technology and infrastructure. In the US and Canada, Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) provides an easy framework in which to raise funds for WSD called the WSD Challenge. For a pledge of $250 or more, OGS will provide a free WSD Challenge Practice Kit that includes wristbands, donor cards, balloons, stickers, counter card, and more. Get involved and be a part of WSD to help with the right to sight!
To read more about World Sight Day, WHO Global Action Plan 2014-19 and Vision 2020:
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
Optometry Giving Sight
World Health Organization
Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
Data Collection-are you up to the challenge?
From our website “As one of the largest organizations that provides direct delivery service of eye care in the developing world, VOSH Chapters have the potential to make a significant contribution to alleviating the global burden of blindness and visual impairment by simply recording our data.” Annually VOSH clinics serve thousands of people all over the world. Thousands receive glasses, medication, referrals and education about their eyes. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was data to further validate the important work that VOSH Chapters are doing? The data can be used by organizations such as IAPB, WCO, BHVI and others to gain information on global eyecare needs. VOSH Chapters can also use it to better prepare for clinic trips if common refractive errors and ocular conditions in a region are better understood.
Data collection is an immense effort for VOSH teams. If it is done during the clinic trip, it may be difficult as the team has already put in a long clinic day. If the data collection is left until after a team returns home, sometimes the data is put on the back burner and may stay there. Advice from VOSH Chapters that have successfully contributed data is to collect data during the clinic trip. One of the best ways to do this is to add a station to your clinic. Make it part of the clinic and assign VOSH team members to review exams forms and enter the data live during the clinic.
Data collection can be thought of in two levels-basic and comprehensive. If you have not yet collected data, the basic level may be a good place to start moving to the comprehensive level on your next VOSH clinic trip. The basic level collects information on number of patients seen, gender, age groups, glasses dispenses, referrals made. On our website, this data can be uploaded daily or at the end of your clinic trip. The comprehensive level uses a VOSH developed universal exam form labeled “SOS Intake & Exam Form”. These forms are completed on every patients and scanned in. A software program is able to analyze the data and provide results on all parts of the examination and inclusive of all the basic level data. Forms for both the basic and advanced data collection are found on our website at: https://vosh.org/clinic-data/. There is a PowerPoint to assist understanding how to use the universal form and if you have any question please ask at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data collection is not easy, but it is important. The good news is that VOSHers are hard workers and very capable to take this extra important step that will help contribute to solutions in the field of global eyecare. VOSH Chapters are up to the challenge of data collection!
Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
Development of Optometry Worldwide
Living in a country where there is access to care, it is sometimes hard to remember that everyone does not have this advantage. An eye exam to correct refractive error and detect sight-threatening conditions seems easy to access, but it is not always possible. Around the world, so many do not have this advantage due to lack of eyecare providers or inability to access this care. Optometrist are well suited to help fill this vast need. The World Council of Optometry (WCO) created a document called “Why Optometry?” in response to the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014-2019. This document can be found at https://worldcouncilofoptometry.info/why-optometry/. The WCO states: “Optometry answers these challenges by providing a range of diagnostic, technical and direct patient care and support services required by patients and other health care professions. It has increasingly focused on universal health coverage; providing accessible, equitable and affordable eye health services to all and shifting from a predominantly private sector orientation to a public sector one as well. Optometry functions in a primary care capacity in many developed countries and in developing countries at a secondary level as part of a multidisciplinary team including doctors and ophthalmologists.”
In addition, as optometrists, it would be hard if we were unable to practice using all our skills and knowledge that we acquired in our training to help our patients. There are many organizations working hard to increase the level of optometry training worldwide. These organizations are also working with local government to recognize the profession of optometry and enabling optometrist to provide care within the local healthcare systems.
How can you help? Become a member and support organizations that are developing optometry schools and advocating for optometry as a profession around the world. Here are some of these organizations:
World Council of Optometry: https://worldcouncilofoptometry.info/
Brien Holden Vision Institute: https://www.brienholdenvision.org/
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: https://www.iapb.org/
Optometry Giving Sight: http://www.givingsight.org/
Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI