World Orthoptics Day June 3, 2019

As optometrists, we know that once an eye examination has been done ensuring that a patient has the proper glasses prescription and their ocular health is good, patients may still experience problems with their vision.  Orthoptics is a discipline of eyecare that specializes in disorders of the visual system that cause symptoms such as trouble reading, double vision, eye strain, blurry vision and poor focusing ability.  These symptoms can stem from problems with our focusing and eye movements such as accommodation and convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, double vision and strabismus.  Having these problems can make it difficult to have clear comfortable reading vision, creating hurdles to education and employment.  Sometimes these problems can be resolved through visual training.  VOSH/International supports the practice of orthoptics and the inclusion of orthoptics in optometry schools worldwide.  Optometrists and orthoptists work side by side for the benefit of our patients complementing our skills and areas of expertise. During our clinics many of us have identified patients who would benefit from orthoptists skills and understand the need to increase the numbers of optometrists and orthoptists within the eye healthcare workforce.

The aim of the International Orthoptic Association’s World Orthoptics day is to promote the science of orthoptics worldwide, to provide information and support to national bodies and individual orthoptists, and to help maintain and improve standards of education, training and orthoptic practice.  You can read more about it here:

https://www.internationalorthoptics.org/events/word-orthoptic-day/

If you happen to be near the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, the British and Irish Orthoptic Society will be celebrating World Orthoptics Day by attempting to break the current Guinness world record for the “Largest Human Image of an Eye.” Join the fun!

https://www.orthoptics.org.uk/orthoptics-guinness-world-record-attempt/

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, 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