Optical Industry Joins Forces to Mark World Sight Day

NEW YORK—The numbers are staggering: some 670 million people worldwide are blind or visually impaired simply because they can’t access an eye exam or a pair of glasses. But as Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) mobilizes their forces for the World Sight Day Challenge on Oct. 13, Clive Miller, the organization’s general manager and CEO observed that the beauty of the fundraising initiative is that it helps address “a big problem with a simple solution.”

This marks the fifth year that optometrists, optometry students and industry professionals across the U.S. will take part in the World Sight Day Challenge, a multimillion dollar fundraising campaign coordinated by OGS to raise funds for projects which provide vision care, local training and infrastructure support for people who are blind or vision impaired due to uncorrected refractive error.

ODs are invited to participate by donating their eye exam fees from Oct. 13, or any day during the month of October, and are encouraging patients to make a donation during the World Sight Day Challenge. A number of optometrists, retail groups and optical companies have committed to this year’s efforts as awareness and participation have grown. (See sidebar.)

Clive Miller
According to Miller, “It’s growing every year, but this year feels like the event is really becoming established on the global optical communities’ calendar. We have events and activities happening in Australia, UK, Ireland, Canada, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong and just recently we received support from an optical group with practices in Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“In North America, we have had fantastic growth [for the event] this year. I think the profession and industry really understand the significance of uncorrected refractive error as a public health issue and that the WSDC is a great opportunity to promote the importance of optometry and the role the profession plays in providing good vision care both at home and abroad. It’s also a chance to have fun and really engage with staff and patients on an issue that is directly related to their area of professional skills and expertise,” he said.

Social media, in particular, Facebook is playing a key role in spreading the message about WSDC. Miller said, “It’s a critical part of our activities and such an important means of communicating the message to the profession and industry. We have seen so many practices and businesses posting their activities on Facebook and tagging us, which then of course reaches so many more people. We are also promoting the use of team fundraising pages as a tool for practices and companies to reach out to their social networks to invite donations and help reach a self determined goal,” he said.

Mary Anne Murphy, OD
Mary Anne Murphy, OD, newly named chair of the U.S. national committee for OGS, said, “As a practitioner, I find World Sight Day to be a humbling experience, as we donate our fees and ask patients to help the cause as well. It’s such a significant campaign and the fact that we observe it just for the month of October makes it that much more effective,” she said.

As for her new duties, Murphy said that in addition to securing funding for projects that will provide eyecare services to the underserved, she sees her role as one of an educator. “My mantra is to let other providers and organizations know what the organization is all about so we can work together to build on the effectiveness of all our efforts,” she said. 

World Sight Day Challenge Supporters

NEW YORK—Organizational sponsors for this year’s event are: Global—Brien Holden Vision Institute, CIBA VISION, CooperVision. U.S.— Marchon Eyewear Inc., Vision Source (In Kind), ABB Concise, AllAboutVision, Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions VisionCare Group (in Kind), Transitions Optical, First Vision Media Group, Inc.(in Kind) and International Vision Expo & Conference (in Kind). Canada— Johnson & Johnson, Westgroupe, OSI (In-Kind), Alcon, Carl Zeiss Canada, CAO (In-Kind),Centennial, Nikon Optical Companies who are specifically supporting the World Sight Day Company Challenge with donations include: Transitions Optical has made a company donation of $25,000; Optos will make a donation for each optomap retinal screening image taken on Oct. 13, 2011; ABB Concise has donated thousands of dollars worth of stock for purchase by staff and customers with all proceeds to OGS; EyestarTV has developed a video to use in the practice to show practitioner support for the Challenge and to encourage patients to make a small donation; AllAboutVision will donate $5 for everyone who “likes” them on facebook through November; Demandforce has made OGS their International Eye Care charity of Choice; Focus Labs will donate $1 for every bottle of Freshkote sold in Q4; Synergeyes has a month long employee fundraising program for staff; The Contact Lens Manufacturing Association (CLMA) is inviting all their members to support the Challenge; Vision West and Primary Eyecare Network have both set up team fundraising pages. Clear Vision Optical, OcuSOFT, REM Eyewear, Zyloware, Westgroupe, SpecialEyes LLC, Lens Dynamics, American Polarizers, AVT Advanced Vision Technology and Valley Contax have all made donations and /or are supporting the fundraising efforts of their staff.