President’s Insight: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Imagine losing your sight and with it your capacity to be independent, access education, work or engage socially.  In the world more than one billion people live with some form of disability.  Visual disability affects 217 million people with moderately or severely visual impairment and 36 million with blindness.  2.5 billion people around the world have uncorrected refractive error with 1.1 needing near correction due to presbyopia (https://visionimpactinstitute.org/).  80% of those affected by disability live in developing countries and are among those most marginalised.   Since 1992, on December 3rd the International Day of Disabled Persons is observed across the world.  It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.  You can read more about it here: http://www.un.org/en/events/disabilitiesday/background.shtml One hundred and seventy seven countries have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The purpose is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.  Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/ConventionRightsPersonsWithDisabilities.aspx Through our 84 chapters worldwide, VOSH/International reaches some of the most needed communities across the world bringing essential eye health care and preventing many people becoming permanently visually disabled.  Our community clinics deliver quality and...

President’s Insight: Recap of VOSH Annual Meeting

VOSH Annual Meeting VOSH/International held its 26th Annual Meeting on October 13, 2018 in Montreal, Canada in collaboration with VOSH- Santa Cruz hosts of this event.  Eighty people from six countries, including India, Romania, Mexico, UK, USA and Canada, attended a full day of inspiring speakers, chapter update sessions, exhibitors and networking.  Father Pierre Labine and VOSH-Santa Cruz, https://voshohv.org/, have been an incredibly active VOSH chapter for over 20 years, helping people in their own community and around the world.  Their special guests to the meeting-Mrs. DÌaz and her son Gustavo- had been doing humanitarian work in their hometown and surrounding area in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and  collaborating with VOSH-Santa Cruz for over 20 years ago to provide eyecare and glasses to those in need.   Gustavo Diaz, gave a passionate and powerful presentation at the VOSH annual meeting about the impact of the work of this VOSH chapter on his community highlighting the important networks of local support that VOSH chapters are able to build with local community leaders .  Many other speakers also provided motivation and important information.  These included: Dr. Luigi Bilotto (BHVI) spoke on Sustainable Eye Health and Enhancing Optometry Around the World Dr. Yogita Rajgandhi (VOSH-India) spoke on the State of Optometric Care in India and how VOSH Can Help Dr. Vicki Weiss (VOSH-VA) spoke on VOSH Efforts Domestically and Keys to Success Catherine Lamorena and Yatzie Ponce provided information on Surgical Eye Expedition International and Partnership Opportunities Dr. Asa Morton, MD, spoke on Ophthalmological Collaboration with HELPS International Andrea Haymore and Kirstin Jones presented on the Essilor Vision Foundation’s New Programs to help VOSH for Local Outreach All...

September President’s Insight

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...

August President’s Insight

Data Collection-are you up to the challenge? https://vosh.org/clinic-data/ 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...

June President’s Insight

June 2018 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...

May President’s Insight

Working with SVOSH Chapters Student VOSH chapters are present at almost every optometry school. They are engaged and energic, looking for ways to provide VOSH services, just like VOSH Chapters. It is ideal for VOSH Chapters to develop a relationship with their local SVOSH chapter. Some ways to connect: If you live in a state where there is an optometry school, connect with the SVOSH chapter Ways to connect: invite SVOSH members to local meetings, clinics and activities Here is list of SVOSH chapter leadership: https://vosh.org/chapters/student-chapters/ Look to connect to a nearby optometry school, even if not in the same state Connect with the SVOSH faculty advisor at your nearby optometry school Sponsor events with local SVOSH club Pizza party with a presentation of your VOSH Chapter activities, clinic trips Donate to the SVOSH chapter to support their activities Work with local SVOSH chapter on World Sight Day (WSD) activities. WSD is an annual event to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. WSD is held on the second Thursday of October and this year it will be on October 11th. Make it easier for students to participate Find out from the SVOSH chapter when their school breaks are, it is easier for students to participate in trips during academic breaks. Take a look at the SVOSH calendar of breaks: https://vosh.org/chapters/student-vosh-calendar-of-breaks/ Avoid the month of March (and a few months leading up to March) due to National Boards part 1. Many SVOSH students that participate go during their 3rd year and during their 3rd year is when they are preparing for and taking National Boards part 1. Attend VOSH midyear...