reflections - THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Giving Sight, Giving Hope
Together we can help the millions of people
in the world who don't receive eye care.
KRISTIE L. MADARA, CIBA VISION/OPTOMETRY GIVING
SIGHT CORPORATE FELLOW
Vision was the first corporation to partner with Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) globally
to give sight to millions in need. The company committed $1 million over the next
five years and funded a Corporate Fellow position a full-time CIBA Vision
employee, dedicated to working with OGS to support global development and expansion
of the program.
Making it happen
This partnership was an easy decision for CIBA
Vision. Our mission as a company is to provide "Better Eyes for a Better Life."
That means ensuring quality eye care through innovative products that address refractive
error. And it was an easy decision for me to be the first to take on the Corporate
Fellow role. I was amazed to learn of the staggering number of people (current estimates
are at least 250 million) in the world who are visually impaired or even blind,
with some kids who were not blind spending years in blind programs, simply because
they don't have access to an eye exam and a pair of glasses.
is based on a simple concept partnering with the global optometric community
to fund a sustainable solution for providing eye care services in countries where
none exist. With more than 200,000 optometrists seeing 325 million patients a year
around the world, the campaign has the potential to make a huge impact. I was very
fortunate to witness that impact firsthand when I visited an OGS-supported project
benefiting the people of Sri Lanka.
One of the first things that
struck me about Sri Lanka was the desperate need for quality health care
including vision care even without the devastating affects of the tsunami.
The tsunami just added immense challenges for people who already live extremely
hard lives. People walked miles in the heat and stood in line for hours to get an
eye exam. For many, it was the first they'd ever had.
It was very rewarding to see a child
get her first eye exam and learn that one of the reasons she hadn't been doing well
in school was that she couldn't see the chalkboard clearly. That a child could go
through her life without getting any eye care is unacceptable.
It was equally rewarding to give better
sight to a 78-year-old woman who had also never had her eyes examined. But what
really made clear to me the incredible impact OGS can have was seeing a 13-year-old
boy with alternating esotropia that could have been corrected if he had received
an eye exam and glasses earlier in his life.
A better future
What makes OGS unique is that it only funds programs
that are sustainable, training local personnel to perform eye exams, establishing
vision centers, etc. It's not only about addressing immediate needs, but also ensuring
that quality, local eye care is available going forward. We've already begun training
local health care workers in Sri Lanka.
For OGS, Sri Lanka is just the beginning.
We need funds for many regions of the world that desperately need eyecare services.
It should be an easy decision for all of us to get involved.
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE
EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH RENé
LUTHE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC
MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8132 OR LUTHER@LWWVISIONCARE.COM.
OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2006