What's available and how you can get involved
As a profession, optometry has a rich and varied history of volunteering, delivering services and raising funds to support the eye health and wellbeing of local and international communities.
We’ve outlined below a broad range of programs that optometrists can get involved with. Many of these programs offer the opportunity to share your skills and expertise, strengthen your connection with communities near and far, and in some cases contribute towards further building your practice and your individual reputation as a practitioner.
If you are aware of other programs or charities that you would like to see included on this page please contact Michelle Marven at Optometry Victoria.
Australian South Asian Healthcare Association (ASHA)
The Australian South Asian Healthcare Association (ASHA) is a not-for-profit charity based in Australia dedicated to solving healthcare problems in South Asia.
ASHA’s Eyecare program involves teaching local optometrists, with a focus on improving detection of disease, outreach to communities through optometry independence, and reducing the burden of care on ophthalmology. Volunteers also take part in ‘cataract detection camps’ or school screening programs in rural towns.
ASHA is currently looking for passionate optometrists who have an interest in public health and teaching for an upcoming trip to India in December.
For further information visit www.ashacharity.org.au or contact Anagha Joshi at email@example.com
Cambodia Vision is a not-for-profit and non-political organisation based in Australia. Cambodia Vision was established in 2006 to help those with vision and hearing impairment in Cambodia’s regional provinces. Over the past nine years the organisation has had annual missions to Cambodia with 19,500 people receiving treatment.
Optometrists involved in a Cambodia Vision trip can expect to practice full scope optometry treating anything from infections, uveitis, glaucoma, angle closure glaucoma and retinal detachments through to standard refractive errors, which can be far from standard.
Optometrists participating in the trip often return for further trips, saying it was the most rewarding and satisfying work in their year.
Cambodia Vision relies solely on community donations and corporate sponsorships (both tax deductible) to conduct its work. For further information contact Kuong Chang firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Cambodia Vision on Facebook
DonateLife Week and Corneal Blindness Awareness
Corneal transplantation is the most commonly performed ocular transplantation, and the most frequently performed transplant type worldwide. They are performed to assist some corneal blindness conditions that result in corneal opacification, which accounts for four per cent of the world’s 45 million people experiencing blindness.
Optometrists are in a prime position in the community to raise awareness of corneal blindness and the generous gift of corneal donation, on death. DonateLife Week is a federal government initiative that raises awareness of organ donation, including corneal transplantation.
In Australia, Eye Banks are responsible for retrieving the cornea and sclera from the donor’s eye (and in some cases, with parental consent the amnion from the placenta), and they work with the donation sector to ensure ethical consent and management is adhered to. In 2016, Australia and New Zealand had 1,416 eligible donors and provided 2,360 corneal transplants.
DonateLife Week information and resources are available at www.donatelife.gov.au
To find out more about the eye banking sector and how corneal tissue is processed and managed in Australia visit www.ebaanz.org
To join the Australian Organ Donor Register visit www.doanatelife.gov.au and don’t forget to communicate with your loved ones about your decision.
Glasses for Kids
Glasses for Kids is a public health initiative delivered by State Schools Relief (SSR), that will provide screening, testing and dispensing of spectacles, for all prep to grade three students in the 250 most disadvantaged Victorian government primary schools.
The project aims to remove vision impairments as a significant potential barrier to educational engagement, provide access for disadvantaged families to low cost eye healthcare services in their communities, provide follow up comprehensive eye examination to all children from targeted schools who present with vision impairment and provide free glasses to children where required.
Glasses for Kids takes a tailored approach to the regions in which it is operating in Victoria, with some parts of the program delivering comprehensive eye examinations, and others conducting screening and referral of families to local, participating optometrists as required.
The program is currently being rolled out in metropolitan Melbourne, and the western, eastern and north-east regions of the state. The program will also be delivered in the larger regional centres of Bendigo and Ballarat shortly.
For more information or to get involved in the program contact Meaghan Flack, State Schools Relief on 0425 848 036.
Optometry Giving Sight
Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) is inviting all those who value good vision to support its major fundraising campaign for the year, the World Sight Day Challenge. OGS will use the funds raised in 2017 for projects that give sight and hope to more than one million children.
Chantou (pictured above with her sister) is from Phnom Penh Cambodia, and recently received her first pair of glasses as part of a school eye health program that OGS helps to fund. Chantou said “Now I can fully focus on my studying. I have no headache and no bad feelings when being at school. As a result my teacher says I am an outstanding student in my class – I got first grade this month.”
World Sight Day is on Thursday October 12, but the Challenge runs throughout October. Optometrists, their staff, patients, students and colleagues in the industry can make a tax-deductible donation or raise funds in their practice, school or company.
“It’s simple and fun to do,” said Clive Miller, Global CEO of OGS. “We have materials to help promote involvement, lots of fundraising ideas, and information that shows how your donations are having an impact on the lives of children in need,” he said.
Deakin University Optometry Alumni (DUOA) will be hosting their inaugural World Sight Day silent auction and reverse raffle night in support of the campaign.
“As optometrists we understand the impact visual impairment can have, especially on children and their opportunity to get an education. We are very proud to support OGS and hope this will be one of many future fundraising initiatives,” project volunteer and graduate Daniel Strachan said.
Optometrists can donate or pledge participation in the World Sight Day Challenge by selecting a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Award level by visiting www.givingsight.org.
For more information on OGS ‘Our Children’s Vision’ campaign visit www.ourchildrensvision.org
Rotary World Community Service (RAWCS) Nepal eye teams
Rotary World Community Service (RAWCS) Nepal eye teams having been running trips to Nepal since 1999. The group works closely with a Nepal-based non-government organisation that identifies communities of need and pre-organises clinic sites, liaises with the local stakeholders, organises partnerships with local eye services, organises optometric registration and advertises the clinics.
The main focus of the clinics are providing refraction services to patients, supplying spectacles, professional exchange with local optometrists and participation in a survey team for the local eye hospital.
The work of the eye team is primarily funded by the team itself. Donations are always welcome and are used to fund cataract surgery which is completed at local hospitals.
For further information about donating or being part of the team, contact Jason Booth email@example.com or Grant Hannaford firstname.lastname@example.org
Sumba Eye Program
The Sumba Eye Program began almost by chance in 2006. A planned eye health trip to East Timor was cancelled at short notice due to political unrest in the country, and the trip was transferred to Sumba in Indonesia.
The Sumba Eye Program (SEP) now makes two trips each year, providing upskilling for local health professionals and ophthalmic and optometric eye care in the locations that the government health system doesn’t reach. To date over 10,000 residents of the island have received treatment.
For more information about the Sumba Eye Programvisit www.sumbaeyeprogram.org
To find out more about getting involved contact Peter Lewis email@example.com or Peter Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS)
The Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) was established in 1975 to provide funding to optometrists to deliver outreach eye care services to people living in regional, rural and remote locations, who do not have ready access to primary eye care services.
In 2009-10 the VOS was expanded to provide increased optometry services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in remote and very remote locations.
The objective of the VOS is to improve the eye health of people in regional, rural and remote locations by increasing optometry services in areas of identified need; improving the coordination and integration of those eye health services and the quality of ongoing patient care; and enhancing communication between visiting optometrists, local health providers and other visiting health professionals.
To achieve this, the VOS reimburses a range of expenses incurred by optometrists providing outreach services, including travel, accommodation and meals; facility fees and administrative support at the outreach location; locum support at the home practice, and lease and transport of equipment.
Optometrists interested in providing services under the VOS program can contact Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) on (03) 9349 7800.