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...

MOVE: Motivating Others to VOSH Excellence

April 2018 MOVE: Motivating Others to VOSH Excellence UNAN and ICO optometry students November 2017 How can we make our VOSH clinic trips more impactful? Team up with local optometry! In November 2017, I lead a team from VOSH Illinois including seven of my students from the Illinois College of Optometry, http://www.ico.edu, to work with local optometry for a community service project in Mexico City. My longtime friend and fellow optometrist from Mexico, Dr. Cecilia Escobar, organized locally and coordinated participation from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Optometry program, http://optometria.iztacala.unam.mx/. ICO and 16 UNAN optometry students worked side by side to provide care to 1500 patient during a week-long clinic in Mexico City. During this time, the students worked side by side to provide optometric care. Clinical skills and ideas were exchanged and relationships formed. Through the MOVE program, funded by Optometry Giving Sight, http://www.givingsight.org, the ICO SVOSH club was able to present 10 sets of retinoscopy bars to the UNAN program to support them in their continued community service projects. UNAN and ICO optometry students November 2017 VOSH clinic trips are a valuable way of enhancing local optometry capacity and the MOVE grant provides an opportunity to provide equipment for optometric community service. These grants are for 2 years projects and are funded at $1,500.00. To learn more and apply for MOVE grants see: https://vosh.org/chapters/   Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI President VOSH/International      ...

Our Children’s Vision Partners Meeting

I had the opportunity to attend the Our Children’s Vision Partners Meeting on February 5th and 6th, 2018 in Chilaw, Sri Lanka.  Our Children’s Vision is a global effort lead by Brien Holden Vision Institute and has 73 partner organizations, one of which is VOSH/International.  Attending the meeting were 50 participants representing 25 of the partner organizations.  This is a powerful initiative by the Brien Holden Vision Institute with the purpose “to upscale, accelerate and expand access to eye health services to more children in more locations”.  To date, this program has screened 18 million children with the goal of providing services to 50 million children by 2020. They have developed guidelines and work towards sustainable system change.  Mechanisms of this campaign include: Powerful partnerships Child eye Health services Driving awareness Local knowledge Support for services Our Children’s Vision is leading this call to action by: Advocacy for changes to policy, practice and financing Health education and promotion Research Practioner and Health Worker education Harness Technology driven solutions Disability Inclusiveness Alignment with child health, welfare and development policies, the SDGs and the GAP Creating access to eyecare will enable children to access education and ensure best quality of life.  Children should not be hindered in their education because of a vision problem.  Children’s eye health must be part of children’s health and education and integrated into local health policies.  Our Children’s Vision is bringing all partners together for global development and consolidated efforts to drive sustainable change.  You can find out more information about this campaign and lend your support at...