Optical Community Maintains Strong Support Post Hurricane Harvey

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NEW YORK—As Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia threaten the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, Texans are still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey, which passed through the southeastern part of the state, displacing residents in Houston, Rockport, Beaumont and Corpus Christi. With relief efforts officially underway, the optical community continues to rally in an effort to help those who have been affected.

Luxottica North America has doubled down on its efforts to respond to Harvey. The company contributed $75,000 to support the American Optometric Association’s Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief and the funds will be granted to ECPs who apply and were directly impacted by Harvey. Luxottica also contributed a $10,000 donation to the Certified Opticians Association of Texas (COAT), which will go directly to help opticians who were severely impacted by the Hurricane.

OneSight is distributing eyewear vouchers—which can be used for a complete pair of prescription glasses at local LensCrafters—to people in need at the evacuee locations. To help its employees in the area, in addition to its Guardian Angel Fund, Luxottica North America “is inviting full-time employees to donate their vacation days to any fellow full-time employee who has exhausted their own vacation time during this time of crisis,” a spokesperson told VMail.

In addition, Oakley will donate 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of its Oakley Fuel Cell model, which features the Texas state flag, to recovery efforts throughout September.

Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc., has created a comprehensive relief package to provide much-needed aid for business partners, patients and employees in the greater Houston area whose lives have been turned upside-down by Hurricane Harvey.

“We are extremely saddened by the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by this tragedy. We are working with our local partners to quickly offer support to those in need,” said Jens Boy, president, Carl Zeiss Vision, North America. “Giving back and supporting our communities is part of our DNA and defines who we are at Zeiss.”

Zeiss will work closely with industry partners in the Houston area—including Texas State Optical, Today’s Vision, Vision Trends, Houston Eye Associates, VSP and others—to provide a combination of financial, product and service assistance to eyecare professionals and their patients.

The company aims to get customers back on their feet as soon as possible so they can continue to provide their patients with the best eyecare. Financial support will be used to help rebuilding and recovery efforts for customers, patients and employees.

Vision Source is reporting that less than 20 of its member locations and/or homes were damaged in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The network, which is based in Kingwood and Houston, enlisted senior vice president of vendor relations, John McCall, OD, as the point person for members who had suffered extensive damage to their practice and needed to request financial assistance.

As local administrators continue to work with Dr. McCall in collecting information from more than 60 Vision Source practices located in the areas directly affected by the storm, Vision Source still encourages donations to the Vision Source Foundation to aid to their relief efforts. Online donations can be made here.

Though Texas State Optical (TSO) —a member-owned cooperative which has approximately 120 locations in Texas and Louisiana—has all offices up and operational, many of its members were affected by the hurricane. “Over 70 percent of our members were impacted by Harvey, either in its initial arrival as a hurricane or later as a tropical storm that set over the greater Houston and southeast Texas areas for days,” TSO president, John Marvin told VMail. “Many of our office associates and staff have been through much and several have lost their homes, automobiles and personal property. We are grateful that all are safe.”

Because of the property loss for so many of its associates, TSO has set up a GoFundMe account where companies and individuals can contribute to help people recover.

Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation has also made applying for disaster relief even easier by providing an online application for Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief (OFDR). The Fund provides immediate financial relief for critical and urgent needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The application can be found here.

The Vision Expo team also extends its sincerest thoughts to those affected by Hurricane Harvey and supports the OFDR. If these storms are impacting your attendance to Vision Expo West, The Vision Expo team has a dedicated team ready to help at (800) 811-7151 or click here for more information on the OFDR.

University of Houston College of Optometry’s (UHCO) Pat Segu, OD, FAAO and Nancy S. George, OD, along with Prevent Blindness Texas https://texas.preventblindness.org/ board members communicated with leaders of disaster recovery teams at both GRB and NRG Stadium shelters to offer UHCO’s support in providing eyecare with a clinical team of optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, certified vision screeners, optometric assistants, volunteers and other staff.

Together, the clinical eyecare teams provided eye exams and eyeglasses to over 1,000 individuals at both GRB and NRG shelters since Sept. 2. The core leaders of the project, besides Drs. Segu and George, also included Amy Coburn, MD, and Ann Stout, MD. The following clinical faculty members served as clinical team leads for the project: Susana Moreno, OD, ’14, Rebekah Montes, OD, ’15, and Swati Modi, OD, ’98. Over 40 UHCO faculty, residents, clinical fellow, alumni and students have stepped up to help Houston see better alongside the City of Houston Health Department, Harris County Health Department, Prevent Blindness Texas, local optometrists, ophthalmologists and volunteers.   
 
In Dallas, the UHCO community outreach efforts were coordinated by Zanna Kruoch, OD, ’05, at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. The convention center referred patients to seek care at UHCO’s Cedar Springs Eye Clinic. UHCO teams also assisted in recovery efforts in Austin and North Texas. In Austin, Joe DeLoach, OD, ’81 worked at the MetCenter to address a shortage of doctor support for evacuees.
 
Together, UHCO is Enhancing Vision for Life, across the state of Texas to provide vision care to those in need.

Van Rue, an optical product and practice development consultant, has partnered with the Mindful Eyes Foundation in an effort to request and organize optometric and optical supplies, financial donations, volunteers and warehouse space, to meet the needs of affected eyecare professionals and their patients.

The Mindful Eyes Foundation is an optical charity that grew out of Project Homeless Connect-Vision Services when volunteers Michelle Hoff, OD; Scott Balestreri of Bad Ass Optical Lab; Karen Flynn, of The Optician; Robert Dister, OD; and Robert Bell of EyeCoach all wanted to do more than their work providing eye exams and glasses in San Francisco.

In addition to acquiring 25,000 square feet of warehouse space to preposition optical supplies from, Elevate Digital Optics, Prologue Vision’s TC Charton Eyewear, and Schneider Optical Machines, donating to the Texas Optometric Association and the Texas Opticians Association, donations of ophthalmic supplies have started to arrive from TC Charton Eyewear, Optical Source Unlimited, Europa Eyewear, Elevate Digital Optics, Spectera and others.

Rue and Mindful Eyes are also focusing on patients who have contact lens needs as well as the volunteer first responders who need safety eyewear as they continue to rescue people in hazardous conditions. Mindful eyes will receive tax deductible donations for hurricane relief and forward those funds to volunteer organizations in areas destroyed by storms as needs unfold. For more information, please contact Van Rue at van@rueclan.com.

Donations can also be made to the Certified Optician of Texas’ GoFundMe page. Those who are interested in donating Rx medical samples, re-wetting drops or plano safety eyeglasses can contact Schneider’s Roger Beeler at R.Beeler@schneider-om.com, Elevate Digital Optics’ Alan Yuster at Alan.yuster@myedolab.com and Prologue Vision at info@prologuevision.com. Those who need assistance can also visit http://hurricanevisionrelief.org.

Vision Monday and VMail will continue to monitor the relief activities and status of impacted offices, retailers, labs and suppliers as details become available. Please send any related information to vmeditor@jobson.com.