January 2021 newsletter
We start the year with increased hope and plans to continue innovating, adapting and sharing our expertise for the benefit of our communities.

In this issue, President Twelker reflects on the current pandemic, vaccination and resuming humanitarian clinics in the future, we celebrate the international recognition of two committed Voshers, express our gratitude to donors and supporters that make our work possible, share a reminder on membership dues for our US and Canadian chapters and raise awareness on some important observances.  Stay safe and hopeful.
President's Insights
We are a little over a year into this pandemic and this may be a good time to revisit where we’re vis à vis the pandemic and our position at VOSH/International. Read the whole article here

Updated COVID-19 VOSH/International recommendation

Please find the most updated VOSH/International COVID-19 recommendation here.

Two 2020 Vision Excellence Awards for deserving VOSHers
In December 2020 we received the wonderful news that Dr Tracy Matchinski, past President of VOSH/International and Dr Robert Molter, Board member of VOSH/International were selected as recipients of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness Vision Excellence Awards. Congratulations to both deserving winners. You can read more on both awardees clicking the links above.
2021 Membership Dues - Important notice
At the 2020 Annual Meeting, VOSH/International US and Canadian chapters were informed that due to the impact of COVID-19, this year we are only requesting payment of the chapter membership due of $100 per chapter and not the additional $10 per individual chapter member. We hope this decision helps our chapters facing economic difficulties. We thank those chapters that have already paid and those that can still honour the full membership dues.  If your chapter has any questions, please contact our Treasurer, Mark Rakoczy, OD (rakoczy@vosh.org) to discuss your specific situation. Membership dues can be paid by cheque and sent to our registered address shown below.  Thanks for your constant support.
This month we would like to thank
2021 Grant for VOSH/International
We are delighted to announce that Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) conferred a grant of US$100k for VOSH/International’s work this year. The grant will support key programs such as the Technology Transfer Program (TTP), SVOSH Outreach and Ambassadors among others. Our gratitude to this loyal supporter of our work.

Matching fundraiser donors

We are grateful to all those who contributed to reach our $10k target to match an anonymous donation by the end of December, 2020. These funds will help us cover some of our operational costs this year.

Donation to TTP

Essenbach Optik of America, Inc generously donated 1000 pairs of clip-on absorptive filters. When making the donation Eschenbach stated:  "Eschenbach is pleased to support VOSH and its mission by donating some of our vision-enhancing products that can help those with vision loss see better. Through the instrumental facilitation efforts of VOSH, those with a vision impairment in needy communities will be able to accomplish daily tasks more easily and safely thereby leading to the enjoyment of a higher quality of life".
Monthly observances
World Braille Day
World Braille Day is observed to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication, part of the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people. For the visually impaired, especially those who rely on the use of touch to communicate their needs and access information, life under lockdown has revealed how important it is to get essential information and advise in accessible formats, so they can protect themselves and reduce the spreading of COVID-19. More information and interesting initiatives here.
US National Glaucoma Awareness Month
According to the National Eye Institute, women account for 61 percent of glaucoma cases. Additionally, black Americans age 40 and older are at the highest risk of developing glaucoma. By age 69, nearly six percent of black Americans have glaucoma, with the risk rising to nearly 12 percent after age 80. And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that because Hispanics and Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States, by 2050, half of people living with glaucoma will be Hispanic or Latino. Prevent Blindness, in partnership with Responsum Health, has launched “The Glaucoma Community, a comprehensive resource, accessible online or through the mobile app, to help educate the public on this condition. More information here
2021: International Year of Health and Care Workers
2021 has been designated the International Year of Health and Care Workers (YHCW) in recognition of their dedication to providing care during and despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has challenged health systems worldwide. Read more here.
Training for VOSH/SVOSH trip leaders-Planning future humanitarian trips
Last year VOSH chapters faced challenges sorting out trip cancellations and refunds caused by the pandemic. VOSH/International has entered into an agreement with Key Travel -the world’s largest travel management company specialised in humanitarian and academic travel for non-profit organisations- that offers several benefits to our chapters and volunteers. Trip leaders are welcomed to join in a training session on the Key Travel portal on February 1st at noon CST. Join the training here. We want to help our chapters prepare when V/I humanitarian or academic travel is possible again.
Joint session of SVOSH-Illinois College of Optometry and SVOSH-Ohio State University College of Optometry.

2021 could not have had a better start. On January 14th, members of SVOSH chapters at ICO and OSU came together for a guest lecture by Dr Tracy Matchinski on VOSH/International. It was a great opportunity to share ideas between two SVOSH chapters and learn about inspiring experiences by seasoned VOSH leaders. Thanks Dr Bradley Dougherty, Faculty Adviser of SVOSH-OSU and leaders of SVOSH-OSU for the initiative.
Large study links air pollution to higher risk of AMD
Small increases in air pollution are linked to an increased risk of irreversible sight loss from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a large UK study has found. The research is published in the journal British Journal of Ophthalmology and used data on 116,000 people in the UK Biobank database aged 40-69 with no eye problems at the start of the study. The health of the retina was examined by scans for more than 50,000 people. You can read the research findings here and an interesting article on this research here.
VOSH/International is a U.S. registered charity