VOSH Recognizes Myopia Awareness Week

In many countries, when we think about myopia we think about myopia control-what combination of glasses, contact lenses and atropine eye drops will slow the progression of myopia and prevent future vision loss from myopic complications.  What we also need to be thinking about is those who have myopia and who do not have glasses to correct it.  We need to think about the people that do not have access to eye care and cannot obtain glasses to help them see.  When we are unable to see, we have trouble with our education, ability to work and social interaction.

The World Council of Optometry and Brien Holden Vision Institute are working together to bring awareness to myopia with Myopia Awareness Week, 13-19 May 2019.  The WCO and BHVI seek to increase awareness about myopia and proper treatment.

In a recently published study by Dr. Naidoo et al, it was found that visual impairment from uncorrected myopia had an impact on the global economy of lost productivity of US$244 billion dollars.  The study found that 538 million people suffer uncorrected myopia and an investment of US$20 billon could eliminate this problem globally.  This funding would be investing in the training of eye care professionals and eye care infrastructure in countries that lack these resources.  Naidoo KS, Fricke TR, Frick KD, Jong M, Naduvilath TJ, Resnikoff S, Sankaridurg P, Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of myopia: systematic review, meta-analysis and modelling. Ophthalmology. 2019 Mar;126(3):338-346. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2018.10.029. Epub 2018 Oct 17.       

VOSH/International and VOSH Chapters are working towards developing and supporting optometry and providing eye care and glasses around the world.

To read more about Myopia Awareness Week and the impact of global myopia, visit the websites of World Council of Optometry and Brien Holden Vision Institute:

Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
President, VOSH/International

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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 and boosted, 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 and its variants are 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 or 2022.

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 Organization: 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.

Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

December 2021