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HomemistoryGiving the Gift of Sight

Giving the Gift of Sight

What do a round of golf, a university sausage sizzle and a Christmas present have in common? They have all been used to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight this year.

Australian optometrists, students and staff working in practices and for optical corporations have done more this year than ever before in their efforts to end uncorrected refractive error worldwide.

Optometry Giving Sight is the vehicle through which funds raised by optometry can target programs which not only provide eye exams and glasses, but also train local eye care professionals and develop infrastructure through a co-ordinated approach in the developing world.

Rising to the Challenge

Hundreds of Aussie optometrists took part in the recent World Sight Day Challenge in October.

Funds raised this year will be directed to programs that aim to screen four million people, train 800 local eye care professionals, and develop 100 vision centres over the coming years

“All in all, it’s been a win-win experience, highlighting the importance of eye examinations for everyone, generating positive publicity for our practice in the local area, and raising funds to enable Optometry Giving Sight to provide crucial eye care for those in need,” says Majella O’Connor, Ocean Eyes Optometrists, Victoria.

Australian optometrists continue to lead the way in their support of the World Sight Day Challenge, with ever-growing numbers of optometrists participating in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The significant funds and awareness raised across all four countries demonstrate the incredible impact that optometry can have on the issue of blindness and low vision, due to uncorrected refractive error. By supporting Optometry Giving Sight, optometrists are taking ownership of the problem and are actively helping to fund the solution.

Optometrists donated their eye exam fees on World Sight Day and organised practice celebrations, decorated the reception with posters and leaflets, and used innovative ways to encourage donations from patients. VCO students raised funds through a sausage sizzle co-sponsored by mivision, while the students at UNSW held two sausage sizzles, a raffle, and encouraged donations from friends and family to raise more than AUD$7,800. Raffles, morning teas and presentations were favoured by Optometry Giving Sight’s corporate sponsors, with Eyecare Plus matching every dollar their practices raised, up to AUD$10,000.

Cricket legend and optometrist, Geoff Henry Lawson, undertook the role of World Sight Day Challenge Ambassador, meeting with supporters at the SRC in May this year. Geoff helped to secure Optometry Giving Sight’s inaugural television promotion of the challenge on Channel 10 and SBS News. Additionally, more than 50 articles in mainstream newspapers and 20 interviews on radio stations across Australia, have promoted optometry’s involvement in the challenge.

New Leadership

Optometry Giving Sight is delighted to announce that Bob Lees, of Lees and Henschell Optometrists in Brisbane, has been elected the new Chair of the Optometry Giving Sight National Committee in Australia. Retiring National Chairman, Professor Brien Holden, has seen the organisation develop from a simple idea into the international charity of choice for more than half of the optometry profession in Australia. Brien is now handing over the reins to focus his efforts as the Chair and CEO of Optometry Giving Sight, on a global level.

“There is no doubt my experiences in Sri Lanka awakened me to the injustice of refractive error blindness and has allowed me to see first hand the power Optometry Giving Sight has to change people’s lives,” says Bob.

Supporting Bob on the National Committee will be new Deputy Chair, Ian Breadon, of Breadon and Ruegg Optometrists, Victoria. Existing committee members include: Michael Knipe, Chairman of ProVision and partner in Total Eyecare in Tasmania, and Amanda Davis, COO of ICEE.

Festive Wishes

With Christmas fast approaching it’s time to ask the age old question – what do you buy the person who has everything? Making a donation in lieu of a traditional Christmas or birthday present, or in memory of someone special, is becoming increasingly popular.

Optometry Giving Sight has launched the Gift of Vision catalogue just in time for Christmas. Choosing between five gifts ranging from AUD$30 to AUD$1,400 will have real impact on the lives of people living in underserved communities, by providing something as basic as an eye exam and glasses.

Show Me the Money

Funds raised this year will be directed to programs that aim to screen four million people, train 800 local eye care professionals, and develop 100 vision centres over the coming years.

Communities in Sri Lanka, East Africa, South Africa, East Timor, and for the first time Sumba and Western Australia, will benefit from the funds raised.

The OAA WA Remote Optometry Outreach Service program will expand and become more sustainable thanks to Optometry Giving Sight funding. The program provides much needed optometric services to approximately 40 Indigenous communities in some of the most remote areas of WA.

For those living in Sumba, an island in West Timor, an eye exam and a pair of glasses is out of reach for most. In August, ProVision optometrists, Peter Lewis and Peter Stuart, participated in the first Optometry Giving Sight funded vision care delivery trip, which delivered more than 500 spectacles. Future visits to Sumba will focus on the development of sustainable eye care for the island.

Out and About

Golf enthusiasts will tell you that playing a round or two is not only a pleasant, if not sometimes frustrating pastime, but it can also be easily combined with supporting a charity. Among others, Optometry Giving Sight benefited from the annual Moss Vale Golf Day in NSW, co-sponsored by mivision, and the OAA VIC Golf Day at Yarra Yarra, both of which were highly events. The Sydney City to Surf fun run, Melbourne Marathon, and Sydney to the ‘Gong Bike Ride, were other successfully sponsored sporting events organised this year.

Optometry Giving Sight understands the importance of being accessible to answer questions and explain details, which is why there was a member of staff present at all the major conferences across Australia. As keen supporters, many of the key presenters were happy to share their rewarding experiences.

A Big Tick of Approval

Running for its fourth consecutive year in all states except Victoria, the Tick Yes to Optometry Giving Sight campaign grew in popularity, with many optometrists choosing this easy way to make their annual donation to Optometry Giving Sight.

“Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to Optometry Giving Sight this year. The encouragement and support we have received from both optometrists and our corporate and media sponsors have been inspirational,” says Madeleine Whiting, Australasian Manager. “300 million people around the world are blind or vision impaired simply due to uncorrected refractive error, but with your help we can change that. I look forward to working with our existing, and new, supporters next year.”

To read more about the World Sight Day Challenge, Gift of Vision, funded programs, visit: www.givingsight.org

“Funds raised this year will be directed to programs that aim to screen four million people, train 800 local eye care professionals, and develop 100 vision centres over the coming years.”

“There is no doubt my experiences in Sri Lanka awakened me to the injustice of refractive error blindness and has allowed me to see first hand the power Optometry Giving Sight has to change people’s lives.”

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