Help a Child to See!

World Sight Day Thursday October 10, 2019

Worldwide, there are over a billion people that are unnecessarily visual impaired because they don’t have access to eye care and a pair of glasses.  This unnecessarily vision loss inhibits a child from learning, an adult from working and an individual from being involved in their community.  Access to eyecare and vision correction can change lives dramatically.  During our outreach clinics we regularly witness the significant difference screening and a pair of glasses can make in people’s lives.  A routine eye examination is still not accessible for all, despite being the easiest way to ensure people enjoy good vision and visual impairment is prevented. VOSH/international supports World Sight Day (WSD) as it raises both awareness and necessary funding to end preventable vision loss.  It is coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative. It is supported by eye health organizations around the world – including Optometry Giving Sight – and is included on the official World Health Organization (WHO) calendar.  World Sight Day (WSD) is observed annually on the second Thursday of October.  Funds raised by the eyecare community help fund schools of optometry and train other eye care professionals, help build and provide equipment in community-based vision centers that provide access to vision care and glasses where currently none exist.

The theme this year is “Help A Child See!”  Every donation helps and for as little as $5, this money can provide an eye exam and glasses for a child to help them reach their potential.  So, how can we get involved?  We can promote WSD and raise funds that will go towards the objectives of increasing awareness of this public health issue; mobilizing additional resources for blindness prevention; controlling the major causes of avoidable blindness; training eye care doctors and professionals and providing appropriate technology and infrastructure.  In the US and Canada, Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) provides an easy framework in which to raise funds for WSD called the WSD Challenge.  We can register at  https://www.givingsight.org/practice-registration-us to receive a WSD Challenge kit.  An optometry practice can donate, pledge to donate on eye frame sale or eye exam given in October, invite patients to donate and hold local events to promote WSD.  Optometry Giving Sight is dedicated global fundraising organization that works towards eliminating unnecessary vision loss through provision of eyecare and glasses.  Optometry Giving Sight is a longtime partner and supporter of VOSH/International.

Get involved and be a part of WSD to help with the right to sight!

For more information please visit:
https://www.givingsight.org/giving/world-sight-day-challenge.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVc6asb4yD8
https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/world-sight-day-2019/

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