Patients at DeMers Family Vision Group come for eye exams and to purchase glasses for themselves or their families. But on Thursday, a part of the money patients spent improving their own vision will help people all over the world see better.
In honor of World Sight Day, the husband and wife optometrists donated $20 a piece for each comprehensive eye exam completed Thursday.
“It’s very important to us to give back to areas of the world that don’t have what we have in America,” said Leslie, adding that they plan to participate again next year.
World Sight Day is an effort to bring awareness to the issue of avoidable blindess and visual impairment. Thursday marked the second World Sight Day, and this year’s theme, “Gender and Eye Health,” promotes equal access to eye care.
World Sight Day is an initiative of VISION 2020, which is supported by the World Health Organization. According to VISION 2020, nearly two-thirds of blind people worldwide are women and girls. Eighty percent of blindness is avoidable, whether it be treatable, curable or preventable.
According to the World Sight Day Challenge, $5 can provide an eye examination, a pair of glasses and residual training to staff in countries where eye care services are slim.
Optometry Giving Sight, the organizer of the World Sight Day Challenge, funds programs that offer comprehensive eye exams and glasses and establish training centers in communities with little or no access to vision care services.
Leslie said one of the things that specifically drew she and her husband to World Sight Day was the organization’s desire to reach out to underdeveloped nations.
“This organization is working at not just going to third world countries and handling out glasses,” she said. “They are setting up institutions to train optometrists with the knowledge they need to provide sight.”
Patients were also given the opportunity to donate money. Leslie said their office wasn’t pushing donations on patients because of the current economy.
By the end of the year, Optometry Giving Sight hopes to distribute $3 million to help screen and provide basic eye care services to more than 1.7 million people worldwide. It will also help train 1,550 mid-level eye care personnel and create 101 vision centers and optical workshops.