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March 2021 Newsletter

This month our President shares his insights on the development of optometry through a blog featured by IAPB on the occasion of World Optometry Day, we celebrate International Women’s Day with growing numbers of female ODs leading and practising, highlight World Down Syndrome Day, feature the launch of the Vision Atlas and much more. We hope you enjoy this issue.


President's Insights

This month President Twelker takes the opportunity to reflect on the development of optometry on the occasion of World Optometry Day. This blog is featured by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) as part of the celebrations of this day here or you can read it in full here.

Happy World Optometry Day!!


Join us for a two-parts online meeting to increase our understanding of the situation of primary eye health care in selected countries and explore ways to improve the collaboration between our chapters. This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from our chapters and strengthen collaboration. Registration will open in April and more details will available in the April newsletter.

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SVOSH Leadership Conference

Eye Exams outside the traditional lane.

On February 18th, Drs Michael Ciszek and Craig Bowen led a session for our SVOSH chapters on practical tips to carry out eye examinations outside a traditional lane set up. Great tips were shared and the video will be soon available to all SVOSH chapters.

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Corneal GP lens design, fitting and evaluation workshop for the school of optometry at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

On March 8th, Dr Edward Bennett led a hands-on workshop on corneal GP lenses for students and faculty at KNUST as part of our XOVA funded project on Contact Lenses in Ghana. Thank you Dr Bennett for a great session and to the patients, students and faculty at KNUST for your participation.

News from our partners

GlobalEyes podcast features President Twelker

The GlobalEyes podcast is an initiative of Dr. Melissa Barnett and Dr. Tom Arnold to feature opinions of optometrists across the globe. President Twelker was a guest to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected VOSH/International and its chapters, what it’s like living and teaching abroad and much more. You can listen to the podcast here.


IAPB launches Vision Atlas


IAPB recently launched its Vision Atlas. The Vision Atlas is a compilation of the very latest eye health data and evidence. Powered by the data from the Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG) /Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2020 model, it transforms data from academic journals to interactive maps, charts and narratives that can be used for advocacy and planning. You can access the Atlas here.

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ALDOO's Public Health Committee Zoom webinar on Optometric Research

The Public Health Committee of the Latin American Association of Optometry and Optics (ALDOO) invites all interested optometrists to a Zoom webinar on Optometric Research in Latin America with invited guest, Prof. Kovin Naidoo, Vice-President Social Impact Africa and Latin America, Essilor International to be held on March 27th at 2:00PM (Mexico City time). More information here or contact for more information.

Eye Health free online courses

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in partnership with FutureLearn are offering a series of free online courses on several eye health conditions such as trachoma, RoP and others. More information here.


Monthly observances

International Women's Day


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Of the 1.1 billion people with untreated vision loss, 55% are women and most live in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). The new data in the IAPB Vision Atlas notes, "women are 12% more likely to have vision loss than men." Research commissioned by the WHO further highlights that although women make up 75% of the global healthcare workforce, they only occupy less than 25% of the most influential leadership positions.

In 2021, Women In Optometry (WO) identified that women comprise 45.1% of the ODs practicing in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Guam, an increase from the 44.2 % found in January 2020. Overall, the number of female ODs practicing the U.S. increased about 14.8% in comparison to 10.7% for male ODs. This is also a trend in other countries of the world such as in the UK, Canada and Australia.  VOSH/International sends its sincere congratulations and gratitude to all women optometrists who are making a difference in their patients’ lives and #Choose to challenge eye health inequality and work towards equality within the profession.

A special thanks to Tracy, Emilee, Jennifer, Neelam, Natalie, Tracey, Ann, Ruth, Vicki, Brenda, Caitlin, Kara, Audrey, Kathy. Jenee, Stacy, Lindsey, Jill, Ilara, Marina, Ruth, Yogita, Deepa, Ellen, Sandy, Bina, Marcela, Rebeca, Beatriz, Erica, Zulema, Grace, Ronela, Elenia, Linda, Adriana, Gabe, Melody, Rachel, Suzanne, Carolyn, Rosie, Chelsea, Aemie, Jennifer, Rosalia, Kim, Lori, Nanayaa, Valerie, Linda, Hannah, Autumn, Kirsten and all other women leaders and volunteers at VOSH/International.

World Down Syndrome Day


Since 2012, every 21 March World Down Syndrome Day is observed to raise public awareness of this syndrome. The Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes program offers free eye health screenings and education to Special Olympics athletes -including those with Down syndrome-in a welcoming and fun environment. People with intellectual disabilities (ID) typically receive sub-standard or no health care at all. This Lions program found that 23% of athletes on a Special Olympics team have never had an eye exam, 16% have an eye disease and 36% need new prescription glasses. Our efforts to improve our knowledge in this area included a course held by our dear colleague Dr Sandy Block, Special Olympics Opening Eyes Global Clinical Adviser, during our Annual Meeting last year. More information on Opening Eyes Program here and a recent blog of Dr Block here.

Useful reading and webinars

  • Retinal findings in patients with COVID-19. Brazilian ophthalmologists share their findings in this topic. More information here
  • IAPB Glaucoma webinars: If oyu missed these webinars you can find them at this YouTube Channel
  • The next WCO webinar will be on April 14th on Dry Eye. Check their website for details.

It is a little over a year since the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 a global pandemic. It has not been easy but we remain committed to making eye health care accessible and affordable to all. Thanks for your support and commitment!

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