The VOSH 2015 annual meeting, held October 9-10, 2015 in New Orleans, was packed full of information for our chapters to take back for implementation in their clinics, both locally and internationally. Much thanks to National Vision for their sponsorship, as their support made our meeting possible.

World Sight Day was Thursday, October 8 and 2015 is the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. To commemorate, VOSH, with support from VSP and Optometry Giving Sight, conducted a free clinic outreach at the Sanchez Recreation Center. Located in the Lower Ninth Ward, this free clinic to perform free eye exams and provide free glasses directly benefited the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. 

Friday a past president’s luncheon was followed by the VOSH board meeting. That evening all attendees met for a cocktail reception honoring the Fellows of VOSH International.

The Saturday morning session highlights included presentations from the World Council of Optometry, American Optometric Society, Remote Medical Access, Optometry Giving Sight, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Vision Impact Institute, Restoring Vision, Mexican Optometric Association and Surgical Eye Expeditions. Much information was gained by the individual chapters to benefit planning future clinics.

The afternoon had informative breakout sessions with SEE (Surgical Eye Expeditions), working with North American and International student-VOSH chapters, sustainable Clinic Development, and hands-on technology.

A highlight of the meeting was a Skype dialogue from Nicaragua with our VOSH Corp placement, Dr. Justin Manning. Dr. Manning summarized his weekly schedule as he embarks on his teaching career, and was surprised with a President’s Circle Award. Other award winners were Max Bruss (President’s Circle Award), Dr. Victoria Weiss (Humanitarian of the Year), and Dr. Greg Pearl (Lifetime Achievement Award).

I hope you will join us in 2016 VOSH/International Annual Meeting on Sunday November 13, 2016 in Anaheim, CA, following the AAO meeting.

Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI, President

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

Due to an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections, a new variant that is more contagious, and these being early days in the vaccination distribution, VOSH/International DOES NOT recommend that chapters participate in domestic or international eye and vision clinics at this time.

We reiterate that at a time when the coronavirus continues to spread quickly in many parts of the world and vaccinations are not yet available to local populations, the risk of close contact with patients in a crowded outpatient environment remains high.

If a VOSH Chapter or VOSH volunteer chooses to hold a clinic against our best guidance, this is done at your own risk, by your own decision and should be in line with current local/national government rules.  VOSH/International would like to reiterate that 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.  You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here

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 patience in these unprecedented times, hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

January 2021