Article Date: 12/1/2011

Optometry Students Worldwide Tackle World Sight Day Challenge

Optometry Students Worldwide Tackle World Sight Day Challenge

Students lend time and talent to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight.

OPTOMETRY STUDENTS worldwide took a break from their studies in the fall to take part in the World Sight Day Challenge (WSDC). This year, approximately 30 student groups helped others by organizing fund-raising events on or around World Sight Day.

Students from all over the world used their creativity and talents to raise funds for projects funded by Optometry Giving Sight, which provides vision care, local training and infrastructure support for blind or vision-impaired individuals.

U of Montreal Students ‘Dine in the Dark’

For the second year in a row, University of Montreal students invited colleagues, faculty, alumni and distinguished guests to experience “Dining in the Dark” at O Noir restaurant. The restaurant serves guests in complete darkness. There are no cell phones, flashlights or candles permitted. After completing the meal, guests and wait staff reportedly have a much better understanding of what it's like to experience the world as a blind person. The dinner, along with proceeds from T-shirt sales and an auction for a donated LASIK surgery, raised more than $3000.

“We invited people to an unforgettable evening at the restaurant, so they could enjoy a unique culinary experience while gaining a sense of what it's like to be blind,” said Martin Spiro, AOSA Trustee from the University of Montreal. “We all take good vision for granted; this was a remarkable way to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight.”

UK Students Cycle for Sight

Optometry Giving Sight and Vision Aid Overseas are joint organizers of the World Sight Day Challenge in the UK. This year, optometry students in the UK raised funds for the Challenge by cycling between all seven of the mainland optometry schools from Glasgow to Cardiff, connecting with fellow optometry students along the way.

The ‘Optoms Cycling for Sight’ bike ride was initiated by Bradford University students Jessica MacIsaac, Fares Hatoum and Abubakr Patel. The ride began at Glasgow Caledonian University before making stops at Bradford, Manchester, Aston, Anglia, City before finishing at Cardiff University.

Houston College of Optometry Has Talent

Faculty and students at the Houston College of Optometry hosted a talent show and admission fees went toward raising funds for the student challenge.

Performers danced, juggled in the dark and played piano to entertain colleagues. Students Reagan Ratcliff and Brent Woolverton went all out for the event by writing and performing “The Glaucoma Song,” which was a big hit with the crowd. (See photo and sample of lyrics below.)

“The talent show was better than I could have imagined. We had 16 acts performed by students and faculty that included singing, piano playing, swing dancing, glow in the dark juggling, original songs about optometry that were hilarious, and many more acts,” said Jeslyn Roy Sabol, UH College of Optometry student and BSK President. “We sold about 140 tickets and made even more money with an iPad auction. So far, we've raised $1521 for Optometry Giving Sight.”

Students at U of New South Wales “Go Blind” for a Day

After completing a research assignment last semester on refractive error, students at the University of New South Wales gained a new understanding of the impact refractive error blindness can have on a person's quality of life, their family and community. Three students decided to put this knowledge to the test by effectively ‘going blind’ for a day to raise funds for the World Sight Day Challenge.

By not wearing their normal corrective eyewear or by inducing poor visual acuity by wearing +5.00D OU contact lenses, students spent an entire day legally blind. Not only did the experience provide them with an understanding of the hardships faced by someone suffering from refractive error blindness, it also served as a fundraiser. T-shirt sales, a bake sale and BBQ raised more than $6,000 for the student challenge.

“I felt fairly sure that I'd be able to handle being legally blind for one day,” commented UNSW student Carmen Duong. “It was such a surprise when I put in the +5.00D contact lenses and withstood the frustration of not being able to see clearly for the whole day. It was incredibly hard to read and I found it almost impossible to communicate with people, because it was difficult to read their facial expressions and body language. I felt a huge sense of insecurity, and it was incredibly difficult to get through the day without the help of others.”

The students efforts did not go unnoticed.

“We're grateful for all of the students who took part in the World Sight Day ‘Student’ Challenge this year,” said Mary Anne Murphy, OD, Chair of Optometry Giving Sight, USA. They've shown concern for others. The funds they raised will go directly to our partners, who are providing sustainable eye care in 16 developing countries.” nOD

”Pressures high, pachs are low, risk factor overload. Check the nerves, left and right, man those rims are thin. I should'a known you had glaucoma from your history, but your angles were open. Why were they open?”

Lyrics from “The Glaucoma Song” written by UHCO students Reagan Ratcliff and Brent Woolverton
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Optometric Management, Issue: December 2011