“Optometry Giving Sight raises funds to support sustainable projects that deliver eye care and glasses in communities where there is currently little or no access to these services”. Optometry Giving Sight is a valuable partner to VOSH/International. Congratulations to them as they celebrate their ten year anniversary! I always enjoy looking at their website, givingsight.org, to read about the many projects they support.

World Sight Day is October 13th. Yesterday our office received a large box containing our new Optometry Giving Sight t-shirts. In our office, employees have a casual day one day per week where they wear their Optometry Giving Sight t-shirts. We put various informational pieces throughout the office, and post pictures on our Facebook page. Patients are encouraged to donate, and when they do so put their name on a donor card that’s posted behind our front desk.

Optometry students are especially creative in their participation in the World Sight Day challenge. One school hosts a dine-in- the-dark dinner, where they serve a nice dinner and all those participating wear a blindfold while eating. Another school sells links that the participants put their name on, and link them together to create a large chain. At the end of the challenge they pull on the chain, and the first link that breaks wins a prize. On a student level this creates excitement about how students can make a difference with their fundraising and it also raises the awareness of the blind and visually impaired people throughout the world.

I challenge all VOSHer’s to participate in the World Sight Day Challenge, which run through September and October. Optometry Giving Sight can help you get started-go to their website for ideas and help make a difference.

Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI, President

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