Optical Community Gets Behind World Sight Day in a Big Way

By

GOLDEN, Colo.—The 2015 World Sight Day is shaping up to be another great success story, with thousands of eyecare professionals, companies, students, staff and patients, in the U.S. and around the world, all contributing to raise funds to help eliminate avoidable blindness and impaired vision.

“Close to 1,000 optometric practices, companies and schools, along with their staff and patients, are participating in this year’s World Sight Day Challenge (WSDC) in North America, with fundraising continuing through at least the end of October for some," said Clive Miller, Optometry Giving Sight’s global CEO. “A similar number are participating in Australia, the U.K., Italy, Norway and Singapore.

“This has definitely been our most exciting Challenge to date and will greatly assist our efforts to fund sustainable eye and vision care projects in underserved communities throughout the world. Our sincere thanks to all those who have made a donation already and we encourage all those who have yet to do so to visit givingsight.org/donate,” Miller said. The fundraising efforts will continue through Oct. 31.

This year’s Coalition members supporting OGS' World Sight Day Challenge include ABB Optical Group, Alcon, AllAboutVision.com, CooperVision, Essilor, Eyefinity, FYidoctors, Marchon Eyewear, Vision Source, VSP Global and ZeaVision.

They will be joined by A&A Optical, Accu-Lens, Acuity Pro Software, Advance Optical, Allergan, Art Optical, Bard Optical, ClearVision Optical, Contamac, DAC Vision, Demandforce, Essilor Canada, Europa, Eye Pros, Eye Recommend, Gateway Professional Network, Good Lite Company, GPLI, Heidelburg Engineering, Hilco, Hi-Tech Products, Jobson Medical Information, Konan Medical, Kosh Ophthalmics, Match, Menicon, Modern Optical, Modo, Nikon, Oasis Medical, Ocuco, Optos, Optovue, OSI, PFO Global, POG Labs, REM Eyewear, RX Optical, Reptile Sun, Ron’s Optical, Signet Armorlite, Slack Incorporated, Smart Vision Labs, SynergEyes, Tech Group, Tura, Valley Contax, Vision Ease, Vision One Credit Union, Vmax Vision, Wave Contact Lens System, Westgroupe, Zeiss Canada and Zyloware, all of whom are participating in the Challenge in some way.

In addition to efforts by the Coalition, as reported by VMail, ECPs, optical retailers and dozens of other optical industry companies and organizations held special events on Oct. 8 to raise general awareness and dollars around the cause of undetected refractive error and the needs of so many patients. Social media amplified many of the activities this year.

Following are highlights, in alphabetical order, from some of the thousands of participants who raised funds and awareness of the need for eyecare and eyewear on World Sight Day:

ABB Optical Group, a World Sight Day coalition member, is again offering all of its customers the opportunity to donate to Optometry Giving Sight through the ABB Optical ordering websites through the end of October. For every $5 donated, the customer will receive a World Sight Day People Power bracelet shipped with their contact lens order, and ABB Optical Group will match that donation 100 percent.


(L to R) Dr. Graeme MacKenzie, Mara Nieuwsma and Lisa Macready
from Adlens with Fight for Sight’s Catherine Woodhead and Jessica O’Neill.

James Chen, the philanthropist and investor behind U.K. charity Vision for a Nation and variable focus eyewear company Adlens, hosted a party in New York on World Sight Day to announce the launch of a project aimed at providing eyecare to 2.5 billion people around the world suffering from poor vision. At a reception in New York Chen asked guests to support his new global initiative, Project Oversight. Chen said the project will be guided by “patient philanthropy,” a personal philosophy he said can lead to “a new vision for social transformation.”

Project Oversight will be running a challenge over the next year which will invite the public to reimagine and design the way the world can have access to vision correction. The three individuals or groups with the most promising ideas will each be rewarded with a $100,000 seed grant to help them realize their ideas.

Vision for a Nation will begin accepting proposals later this fall and announce the winners by early next spring. The final report will be presented on World Sight Day 2016.

Adlens also marked World Sight Day by announcing a new partnership with Fight for Sight, the U.K.’s leading eye research charity. In the first year of an anticipated long-term partnership, Adlens has committed to raising funds that will go toward research into the causes, detection, treatment and prevention of sight loss and eye diseases.

The adjustable focus eyewear maker has pledged to donate 7.5 percent of its “Instant Eyewear” sales to their charity partners, including Fight for Sight. This will be supported through employee engagement events for the remainder of 2015. Also, the company is participating in Fight for Sight’s Feast Your Eyes event, which encourages people to dine in the dark between Oct. 16 and 22.

“Adlens is driven by its mission to transform people’s vision across the world, and funding research into the treatment and prevention of sight loss is essential to this,” said Dr. Graeme MacKenzie, director of industry and regulatory affairs at Adlens.

“With promising developments in stem cell advances and gene therapy, it has never been a more exciting time for eye research and there are huge opportunities for scientists, if they have the funding required. Fight for Sight has a remarkable history of scientific breakthroughs and we hope our support will allow more scientists to make life-changing discoveries in eye research.”

To receive a free Feast your Eyes pack, complete with blindfolds, visit FightforSight.org.uk/feast or call 020 7264 3900.

Alcon, a World Sight Day coalition member and division of Novartis, co-hosted free vision screenings and eye exams in Fort Worth, Texas, and challenged American Academy of Optometry attendees to ride 2,020 minutes to raise awareness of eye health on World Sight Day.

At Tarrant County College and Hommel Elementary School, Alcon partnered with the Essilor Vision Foundation, Prevent Blindness Texas and Lions Club International to provide vision screenings and eye exams. For those diagnosed with vision problems, free glasses were made on-site in a mobile eye clinic van.

In addition, the Alcon Foundation donated $25,000 to the American Optometric Foundation (AOF) for optometric education and research when attendees rode stationary bicycles to reach a cumulative goal of 2,020 minutes. An additional donation of up to $25,000 in matching funds was also made for any donations made directly by attendees to AOF during the Academy 2015 New Orleans.

During the week of World Sight Day, Oct. 4 to 10, those fortunate enough to have access to eyecare were encouraged to join the #ShareForSight campaign. With the simple click of a button, users could help spread eye health education and support the nonprofit organization Optometry Giving Sight.

AllAboutVision.com reported that it has exceeded last year’s reach with the Share for Sight campaign, benefiting Optometry Giving Sight. This year’s week-long social media campaign received more than 1,300 social media engagements (Likes, Shares, Retweets, Repins, etc.)—resulting in about 52,200 impressions. The campaign, which promotes Optometry Giving Sight and eye health awareness, is accompanied by a $10,000 donation, as part of AllAboutVision.com’s Supporter National Sponsorship.

CooperVision, a global sponsor of Optometry Giving Sight, is once again conducting its “Fight for Sight” global campaign, in which employees are encouraged to participate in local fundraising activities organized by their teams and/or sites and donate to Optometry Giving Sight. Employee donations will be matched by The Cooper Companies, CooperVision’s parent company.

Last year, $115,000 was donated to Optometry Giving Sight in support of the World Sight Day Challenge, with employees at more than 25 locations organizing and participating in local activities to help generate funds. These included a 5K walk/run, “Celebrate Vision” month, T-shirt sale, jeans days, crepe day, raffles and much more.

In CooperVision's rebate fundraising program, when consumers submit rebates online it gives them the option to donate a portion of all of their rebate money to OGS. So far in 2015, CooperVision's lens wearers have opted to donate $65,114 in their rebate money to OGS. In total, the rebate donation program has raised more than $268,000 for OGS since CooperVision established it.

Demandforce made the rounds at headquarters selling marked-up “beers-for-a-cause” and distributing literature about global vision health statistics, which prompted many, additional, generous donations. Demandforce raised $600 that afternoon, and its parent company, Intuit, then matched the full amount, to bring the contribution total to $1,200.


Essilor of America employees celebrate World Sight Day 2015 at the
company’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

For World Sight Day, Essilor produced this infographic to illustrate the global problem of poor vision.

In recognition of World Sight Day, Essilor launched a global awareness-raising campaign for the general public, to “Raise the Flag for Better Vision.” Essilor Group brand ambassadors shared a “call for action” video with millions of fans across the world. Celebrities “Raised the flag for better vision” along with Essilor Group employees, mobilized across the world to provide screenings and share awareness campaigns.

Kat Graham, well known for her role in Vampire Diaries in the U.S., Piolo Pascual, a famous actor in the Philippines with 2.6 million “followers,” Nieves Alvares, a Spanish top model, and Sonakshi Sinha, a movie star in India with 19 million fans, all shared awareness-raising videos with their fans on social networks in the week preceding World Sight Day.

Additionally, the Essilor Group organized events in some 40 countries across the world to raise public awareness about the importance of good vision for all. Thanks to the involvement of internal teams along with eyecare professionals, Essilor and its partners offered sight tests in the streets, shopping malls, train stations, schools and other public places around the world, from India and the U.S. to Germany, Australia and Thailand.

As part of the WSDC, Eyecare Partners, one of the largest eyecare groups in the Midwest, announced the introduction of the You See, We Give project in honor of World Sight Day. You See, We Give is an ongoing partnership with RestoringVision, a nonprofit which sources new eyeglasses and supplies them to people in developing countries or the underprivileged in the U.S.

Beginning Oct. 1, for each pair of eyeglasses purchased at an Eyecare Partners practice, the company will donate a pair to RestoringVision. Eyecare Partners locations include Clarkson Eyecare (Missouri, Illinois), Thoma & Sutton Eyecare (Ohio, Kentucky), EyeCare Associates (Alabama) and Eyecarecenter (North Carolina, South Carolina). Since RestoringVision’s inception in late 2003, it has supplied more than 3 million glasses to people in 75 countries and has worked with more than 800 different outreach groups.

FYidoctors, a World Sight Day coalition member, has over 120 corporately owned locations, each of which develops its own unique fundraising efforts for the month and asks every patient during October to add a few extra dollars to their purchase.

Corporately, FYidoctors is running its annual “$1 for Every Like” campaign on Facebook, giving $1 to Optometry Giving Sight for every like. FYidoctors matches this total (and also matches the total donations made by its doctors). The company is at almost 4,000 new likes, which is growing by almost 300 each day, on track to beat last year’s record of 9,000. Members of FYidoctors home office team competed in the Canmore Half Marathon – 5k run in September, raising close to $600 for OGS by having office staff place bets on two competing finance department staff members.

The legal, acquisitions and reception teams at the home office are hosting a wine tasting on Monday, Oct. 26 with $20 from every ticket purchased going to OGS. The home office marketing team will also host a “Spin for Sight” spin class and movie night in October.

A few Gateway Professional Network (GPN) practices participated in World Sight Day. Because GPN believes in free adjustments, nosepads and more, when patients come in and ask the cost, the response is, “It’s our pleasure, but if you’d like to donate to World Sight Day, it goes a long way.” In this way, GPN was able to raise hundreds of dollars to put toward a good cause, and the patients feel good when they get their glasses adjusted. Other offices collect donations throughout the year and donate a few dollars for each pair of glasses sold.


(L to R) Elaine Whitley, Educational Success Advisors, with Vision Source’s
Moes Nasser, OD, Donna Mikulecky, and Drew and Erika Jeffcoat.
Photos: John Nader Photography

Vision Source and Nikon Optical, USA, joined together on Sept. 29 to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight’s World Sight Day Challenge. The event, which was hosted by Nikon regional sales manager Cindy Flynn, was held at the Elaine Turner Galleria, an upscale women’s boutique in Houston. Elaine Turner donated 20 percent of the evening’s sales to Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) through Vision Source.

Moes Nasser, OD, the Houston Vision Source administrator, spoke about OGS and its activities in eastern Africa. Dr. Nasser discussed how the organization provides cost effective and efficient vision care, primarily for children. He shared his personal story of growing up in an underprivileged nation, needing such treatment as provided by OGS.

OneSight’s WSD activities centered around its #HelpTheWorldSee campaign. The organization had engagement throughout Luxottica both internally with associates and externally on social media. From Oakley athletes to Vogue Eyewear ambassador, Adriana Lima and Sunglass Hut global ambassador, Georgia May Jagger, as well as influencers like Ashley Green, Zoe Saldana and Mario Lopez, OneSight was able to bring greater awareness to the vision care crisis on World Sight Day.

These notable influencers that shared their hand glasses gave voice to the 1.1 billion people who need glasses but lack access. Luxottica associates also got in on the excitement and showed their support. Luxottica Wholesale North America employees posed with their hand glasses during a meeting at the Port Washington office on World Sight Day.


Precision Optical Group employees “pied” boss Mike Tamerius to
raise money for Optometry Giving Sight.

The employees of Precision Optical Group in Creston, Iowa, like to enjoy themselves once in a while, and what other way to have some fun than smashing a pie in the bosses face.

CEO Mike Tamerius agreed to have five pies thrown in his face from employees to help raise money for the company’s World Sight Day Challenge. Employees bought raffle tickets, and five winners were given the option to smash the whip cream pie in his face or throw it. Four out of the five smashed it, while the HR manager decided to test her pie throwing skills. All proceeds were donated to Optometry Giving Sight.

Revo and Bono are partnering to prevent vision impairment and blindness in more than 5 million people by 2020. The Buy Vision, Give Sight initiative will drive $10 million to the fight to improve access to eye screening, prescription glasses and eye health care in under-resourced communities around the world.

When a consumer purchases Revo sunglasses, $10 from the sale of every pair, up to a total of $10 million, will be donated by Revo to the Buy Vision, Give Sight campaign. To execute the initiative, Revo and Bono are working with the non-profit Brien Holden Vision Institute. The funds donated by Revo to the Brien Holden Vision Institute will help pay for basic eye health services, including eye tests and prescription glasses, and build stronger eye health services in target communities for the longer term by training local people to provide eye care and detect eye diseases in their communities.

Revo’s contribution to Brien Holden will support their “Our Children’s Vision” campaign, whose aim is to prevent impaired vision and preventable blindness in more than 50 million children by 2020. Buy Vision, Give Sight funds will also support research.

Vision Source, a World Sight Day coalition member, has set a goal of raising $1 million by August of 2016 to build l’Université d’Etat d’Haiti, the first optometry school in Haiti, where a population of 10 million is served by only three optometrists. The funds will provide a significant part of the amount required to launch the school. The Million Dollar Campaign benefits Optometry Giving Sight.

Vision Source has currently raised in excess of $600,000. This was achieved through donations of Vision Source member optometrists, patients, employees, and matching funds from Essilor, which is in the process of acquiring Vision Source. The Member Support Center Challenge, conducted as part of the Vision Source Million Dollar Campaign, involved Vision Source management and staff in the Kingwood, Texas, office being divided into three teams, each competing to raise $100,000. The competition was fierce and went down to the wire at five minutes to midnight on Oct. 8 with the Black Team winning, which earned five team members the opportunity to participate in an outreach visit to Haiti in early 2016.

To celebrate World Sight Day, VisionSpring and eight of its corporate, foundation and NGO partners conducted community-based vision screenings in 10 low income areas across India. These special World Sight Day activities are part of VisionSpring’s larger initiatives to provide eyeglasses to over 460,000 base of the pyramid customers in India this year.

These initiatives included Vision Entrepreneur training for women to incorporate the sale of reading glasses into their microenterprises and small businesses; and vision screenings and dispensing of eyeglasses for school children in Gurgaon, Haryana; urban slum residents in Delhi; truck drivers and allied transport workers at Asia’s largest transport depot in Delhi; and low income communities in and around Karnal, Haryana; Pune, Maharashtra; Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh; and Angul, Odish.


VSP Global CEO Rob Lynch with the VSP Mobile Eyes clinic.

VSP Global, a World Sight Day coalition member, partnered with Optometry Giving Sight and VOSH International to host a special VSP Mobile Eyes outreach event to increase access to eyecare for those in need and raise awareness about the importance of eyecare. Held in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, 200 people in need received access to no-cost eye exams and glasses through a VSP Mobile Eyes clinic, outfitted with state-of-the-art exam rooms and a full frame dispensary. An additional 200 people received gift certificates for use at a local VSP doctor’s office to receive eye exams and glasses.

Ten years ago, VSP Mobile Eyes evolved from relief efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to provide eyecare and replace glasses for residents and first responders while equipping doctors, whose practices had been damaged or destroyed, to continue providing care. To celebrate World Sight Day and 10 years of helping people see, VSP Mobile Eyes wanted to return to where the program started. Through Eyes of Hope programs, including VSP Mobile Eyes, and partnering organizations that include Optometry Giving Sight, VSP Global businesses have donated more than $173 million in free eyecare and eyewear for nearly one million people in need.

WestGroupe has several activities planned for their employees throughout the month of October to raise funds for this great cause, such as raffles for hockey tickets, pajama day, half/half draws, and much more. Whatever amount of money is raised by these fun activities, WestGroupe will match.

ZeaVision promoted World Sight Day and Optometry Giving Sight at Vision Expo West and Academy with partial revenue sharing of EyePromise and QuantifEye sales occurring at each conference. The company also participated in the VSP WSD charity event in the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans where more than 200 people received free eye exams, glasses, and free EyePromise eye vitamins and ocular nutrition counseling.

Employees participated in fundraising via staff luncheons, raffles and other activities. And an initiative with Major League Baseball's Arizona Fall League, during which ZeaVision will present the batting title award to the player with the highest batting average along with a donation to Optometry Giving Sight on his behalf, will take place next month.

On the optometric practice front, Dr. Steve Rice and the My Vision Clinic in Springfield, Mo., achieved a fundraising highlight for this year’s WSDC by raising $5k in support of their 5k run. More than 100 people participated in the run.

Cambridge Eye Care in Cambridge, Otario, Canada held their annual pub-night event to raise funds for the World Sight Day Challenge. The event was a huge success and $1,500 was raised. They also held a bake sale and will be holding several other fundraising events throughout October. The practice will be generously making a donation for the Challenge as well.

The U.S. World Sight Day Student Challenge has been hugely successful with 20 colleges of optometry and six pre-optometry clubs participating in 2015. They are jockeying to win three $1,000 VOSH International sponsored travel stipends, for them to visit and experience first hand how their donated money is being used. One of last year's winners, University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg College of Optometry, planned a successful Dining in the Dark fundraiser and will be doing the same this year.

Various other Student Challenge activities include an ice cream social, volleyball tournament and Dining in the Dark fundraiser at Inter American University; T-shirt design competition at Southern College of Optometry; and Cycling for Sight event at Pacific College of Optometry at Salus University.

In Canada, the University of Waterloo optometry students participated again in a big way this year, raising over $6,000. Their fundraising included a Dining in the Dark event where participants were blindfolded during a meal to simulate what it would be like to be blind, and a silent auction for many items that were generously donated by the optometric community, local businesses and individuals. TLC Laser Centre in Waterloo, the largest sponsor of the event, donated a laser eye surgery gift certificate for the silent auction.