Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

This August marks the second annual Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month hosted by Prevent Blindness and the National Optometric Association.  These two non-profits groups have joined forces to promote public awareness of the importance of healthy vision for kids in the USA.

Infants/toddler/children are unable to communicate their problems and as they get older are often unaware that they do not see well.  A comprehensive eye exam can detect any problems and lead to early intervention.  Vision is critical in early childhood development.  When a child has early access to eye care, they will have their best vision and be able to participate in their education and social environment.  Correction of early childhood eye health and vision problems is imperative to maximizing their vision ability throughout their life.

Some common childhood problems include amblyopia (lazy eye), Strabismus (crossed eyes), and refractive error (myopia/nearsightedness, hyperopia/farsightedness and astigmatism).  Children can also have difficulty with reading ability, focusing, double vision and visual processing (the brain understanding the vision).  Additional ocular health concerns in this population include infant cataract and glaucoma, premature birth and infection. A child may also be at higher risk for problems is they have been diagnosed with other problems that affect their physical, mental and/or, emotional development.

A comprehensive eye exam will evaluate all these areas and the eye doctor will be able to create a management plan to take care of the eye and vision. General pediatric eye care guidelines include eye examinations begin within the first 6-12 months of life, at the age of 2, once between 3-5 years old, then annually once a child enters school.  This examination schedule would be adjusted for children at risk (family history of eye disease) or children with ocular health and/or vision problems.

In other countries, millions of children may face life without clear vision as access to even the most basic eye care is unavailable.  We know that 80% of what a child learns comes through the visual system and that is why we also support global efforts such as Our Children’s Vision campaign as an implementing partner.

VOSH/International is dedicated to the provision of eyecare and enhancement of optometry worldwide.  We promote and stress the importance of eye care of children.  We applaud the National Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness for this initiative.

For more information:

https://www.preventblindness.org/August-Childrens-Eye-Health-PB-NOA

https://nationaloptometricassociation.com/

The National Optometric Association (NOA) was founded in 1969 in Richmond, Virginia, as a not-for-profit corporation. The NOA is comprised primarily of minority optometrists from throughout the United States. NOA seeks to advance the visual health of minority populations through the delivery of effective and efficient eye and vision care services to the minority community.

https://www.preventblindness.org/your-childs-sight

Prevent Blindness is offering the newly revised “Guide to Vision Health for Your Newborn, Infant, and Toddler.”

http://aoa.uberflip.com/i/807465-cpg-pediatric-eye-and-vision-examination/1?m4=

Evidence-based Clinical Practice Guidelines Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination

http://ourchildrensvision.org

A global campaign to upscale, accelerate and expand access to eye health services to more children across the world.

Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI

VOSH/International President

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Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html

US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021