Optometry Giving Sight

June 28, 2005 10:27 ET

Optometry Giving Sight'TM' Launches Canadian Campaign to End Preventable Blindness due to Refractive Error

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - June 28, 2005) -

OGS will work directly with optometrists to initially raise millions of dollars to end preventable blindness.

Optometry Giving Sight™(OGS), an international fundraising initiative, announces the launch of its Canadian campaign to raise money for worldwide prevention of blindness due to refractive error and to help those with permanent low vision. The Canadian campaign will launch at the 2005 Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) Congress in Ottawa from July 1-3,2005. OGS is the International Charity of Choice of the CAO.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 37 million people worldwide are clinically blind and 124 million people suffer with permanent low vision. Without proper intervention, these numbers will double by the year 2020.

Professor Brien Holden, Chair of the Global Executive Management Committee, estimates that an additional 250 million people are functionally blind or visually impaired due to uncorrected refractive error.

"OGS's aim is to end avoidable blindness by making a lasting improvement in the human resources, infrastructure, and urgent service delivery of vision care for those in desperate need," said Holden. "Without the help of optometry, it would be impossible."

OGS is the first global initiative of its kind that seeks to work directly with the optometric profession to fund sustainable solutions to preventable blindness due to refractive error. Projects eligible for OGS support fall into three areas of focus:

- Eyecare service delivery for communities in need-exams, affordable
glasses and low-vision aids.
- Human Resources-training of optometrists, eye care personnel
and their teachers
- Infrastructure development-eye clinics and schools of optometry

In Canada, a team of volunteers power OGS with the support of one full time staff member. Canadian optometrists are being asked to lend support to OGS via volunteerism and monetary donations.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for Canadian optometrists to join with their colleagues in the world community to help eliminate avoidable blindness," said Dr. Joan Hansen, Chair of the Canada National Optometry Giving Sight Committee.

Refractive error is a disorder, which causes the eye to incorrectly focus light, resulting in blurred vision. It can be corrected with an eye exam and the provision of corrective lenses. Refractive error affects at least 25% of the world population by age 15 and is rapidly rising.

Blindness and impaired vision due to refractive error and permanent low vision are substantial public health problems around the world. They have profound human and socioeconomic impacts in all communities.

Permanent low vision is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected medically or surgically.

OGS is a joint fundraising initiative of the World Optometry Foundation, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and the International Centre for Eyecare Education. It was formed in 2003 to address the call to action issued by the WHO through VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, an international outreach program to assist countries in preventing blindness and restoring sight.

OGS has already launched in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. It will launch in the Netherlands later this year. Italy is planning a launch for 2006.

About Optometry Giving Sight

Optometry Giving Sight is a global campaign in support of the goals of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight through mobilization of funds directed towards the elimination of uncorrected refractive error and helping those with permanent low vision. It is a joint initiative of the World Optometry Foundation (WOF), the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE).

Contact Information

  • Optometry Giving Sight
    Patricia Carrington-Adkins
    (215) 780-1321
    (267) 240-0585 (cell)