VSP Launches ‘Send a High Five’ Campaign to Provide Comprehensive Vision Exams to 50,000 Special Olympics Athletes

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—Noting that approximately 2 percent of the global population, almost 200 million people, have intellectual disabilities (ID) and many are affected by some type of vision loss, VSP Vision Care (VSP), has launched the “Send a High Five” campaign, a program which will provide comprehensive vision exams, follow-up eyecare and related services and materials for up to 50,000 Special Olympics athletes across the U.S., a total donation valued at $43 million, the company said.

VSP reports that some estimates suggest that up to 40 percent of individuals with intellectual disabilities are affected by some type of vision loss or abnormality. Lack of access and barriers to quality eyecare for people with ID means that vision correction needs are often undetected or unmet. The “Send a High Five” campaign was developed to help raise awareness about the importance of healthy vision as well as the barriers to care people with ID face. The company has developed a special infographic to illustrate the program and the challenge.

A VSP spokesperson told VMail that the initiative is the first, consumer-facing phase of a larger, wide-reaching program. The second phase of the program, to begin later in the fall, will be a targeted campaign to the 28,000 VSP network providers, providing education and access to educational resources for the optometrist and their staff to advance high quality vision care to those with intellectual disabilities.

The “Send a High Five” campaign, to run from Sept. 12 to Nov. 15, encourages people to support Special Olympics athletes and VSP by sending a virtual high-five online. For every high-five sent, VSP will donate a gift certificate (up to 50,000) to the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program, good for a comprehensive eye exam, glasses and follow up eye services such as vision therapy, low vision and primary eyecare, to provide an athlete in need at absolutely no cost to them. This campaign will run on VSP Vision Care's Facebook page and SeeMuchMore.com with both consumers and ECPs encouraged to participate and share.

VSP pointed out that research has shown that not only do people with ID have a heightened risk for health and vision problems, but that medical professionals often lack the necessary training to work with them. The “Send a High Five” campaign was developed to help raise awareness about both the importance of healthy vision as well as the barriers to care people with ID face.

“Special Olympics is thrilled to be collaborating with VSP on the ‘Send a High Five’ campaign”, said Special Olympics chairman and CEO Dr. Timothy Shriver. “Access to quality health care is a critical issue facing our athletes worldwide, including in the U.S. With VSP’s support, we can now connect our Opening Eyes program to a national network of community-based providers, and support increased access to care for people with intellectual disabilities. Send a High Five today.”

For every “High Five” sent, VSP will donate a gift certificate to a Special Olympics athlete for a comprehensive eye exam, and if needed, glasses as well as additional services, such as low vision, vision therapy, and a medical allowance at no cost to the athlete. VSP’s donated services will further strengthen the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program by increasing access to necessary vision care, and ensuring that the program will be able to provide critical follow up services where they are needed most.

“At VSP, we believe everyone deserves to see their best and when we learned that more than 35 percent of Special Olympics athletes have not received an eye exam in more than three years, we saw an opportunity to help make a difference,” said Kate Renwick-Espinosa, chief marketing officer of VSP Global. “With this campaign, sending a high five not only serves as a sign of support and awareness, but actually makes a meaningful impact on the health and lives of these incredible athletes.”

To date, VSP charity programs including VSP Mobile Eyes and Sight for Students, and with partners like Special Olympics, VSP has invested more than $150 million in free eyecare and glasses to more than 775,000 children and adults. These services have resulted in the early detection of nearly 10,000 chronic health and eye diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma and cataracts in people across the country.