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pro bono work - where to find these?

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by student2008, Jan 8, 2008.

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  1. student2008

    student2008

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    do optometrists do any pro-bono work? what about going on international missions to less developed countries to give out free eye exams? anything like the doctors without borders type of organization within optometry? how do you find out resources about these things?
  2. IndianaOD

    IndianaOD

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    Check out FCO - Fellowship of Christian Optometrists
    and
    VOSH - Volunteer Optometric Services for Humanity
  3. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    I applaud your desire to do this type of work. VOSH is the best known American optometric organization doing this type of work (international work).

    I suggest you read the following for an alternate view of optometric "missions".

    The rationale for shifting from a voluntary clinical approach to a public health approach in addressing refractive errors
  4. mtrlOATgal

    mtrlOATgal

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    VOSH is really amazing and I had the opportunity to go volunteer with optometrists doing the dispensary and visual acuity screenings. You really get to see how much you can give to the world as an optometrist- you actually see the patients' lives change instantly in front of your eyes. It is really a life chaning experience and it really touched me. Many people in third world countries do not have the eye care that they desperately need and it affects them very negatively and contributes to their quality of life.

    Definitely contact OGS about raising awareness about how to eliminate preventable blindness ( uncorrected refractions) or go to your nearest VOSH chapter. You don't necessarily have to volunteer abroad to make a difference.

    OGS has long term goals to not only send optometrists to TWC and do short term missions and giving out glasses ( this is of course very meaningful) but they have programs such that optometrists can collaborate together and train people in the TWC to be able to do preliminary screenings and establish a more long term eye care service there instead of having the people in that area wait a year or more. For example, in 8 days of clinics we saw more than 5000 patients, but that is only a fraction of the community. There needs to be a long term service established and that takes time and resources. But it is people like you who care that can make it a reality and not just a future speculation or a dream.

    Well pm me if you want to chat more about it, I loved my trip there! :) Definitely learned a lot and saw quite a lot of things that you would not normally see over here.
  5. Icansee

    Icansee PCO c/o 2014

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    I have to mention Unite for Sight as one of the places that does pro-bono work. There website is: http://www.uniteforsight.org/

    They are a volunteer organization that helps the United States out as well as developing and third world countries. It was started by a student from Yale University in 2000, her sophomore year and has grown to include 90 chapters based at corporations, universities, medical schools, and even high schools throughout the world.

    I think it is a really good organization and they have had a lot of progress since it started back in 2000.
  6. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    Thank you for giving of your time to travel to a developing country to provide eye care. Although I am completely opposed to optometric missions I respect those who are willing to give of their time.

    I just wanted to clarify Optometry Giving Sight's role. It is a fund raising organization that funds long-term sustainable solutions that treat refractive error blindness in developing countries. They do not provide services nor should they.

    The International Center for Eye Care Education receives much of the funding but other groups, like VOSH, will as well. These funds will not be used to do optometric missions, rather they will be used to develop some type of refractive care in developing countries.

    It's important to know what the OP wants to accomplish while doing "pro bono" work. With my limited understanding of what Unite for Sight does it doesn't seem like it would be a good fit for an optometry student as their clinical skills may not be able to be put to the best use.

    All that said I'll echo what I've said on this forum countless times. If you're interested in doing international work as an optometrist ensure that you're working within the VISION 2020 framework of the country you are visiting, ensure that you are training others, ensure that you are working on area needs not just on what you have the ability to provide, and ensure that you are evaluating your programs.

    Familiarize yourself with VISION 2020 and the Durban Decleration

    VISION 2020 Publications

    Durban Declaration
  7. Dexy

    Dexy

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    What about pro-bono work in the US or Canada? There are people who can't afford eye exams or glasses here as well. Any organizations that provide free eye care/products to, say, low income children?
  8. Senorwes1

    Senorwes1

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    There are many state and federally funded programs that will provide eye exams to the less fortunate. There is always Medicaid and Medicare. I know here in Alabama there is a program called "All Kids" and in some states they have the "CHIPS" program that is available for a small fee for those that do not qualify for other assistance. Also, the United Way, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities will help with the costs if you qualify. And at most Optometry schools, they give eye exams for a small fee or free.
  9. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    Remote Area Medical Teams RAM

    Gift of Sight (Some good domestic programs, some bad)
    GOS

    Helen Keller International ChildSight Program
    ChildSight

    VSP Sight for Students (Through your practice)
    VSP

    Many cities also have semi-regular free clinics that you can volunteer for.
  10. Dexy

    Dexy

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    Thanks for the info xmattODx and Senorwes1. When I graduate I’d love to help needy families get good vision care and glasses, especially kids.
  11. student2008

    student2008

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    thanks so much for the wonderful information. i knew about united for sight because my college had an optometry club that did some work with them. but ICEE and VOSH were new to me.

    personally, i can see why some would argue that these missions does not tend to promote local development of the optometry profession, but i still think for undeveloped country, providing eye care for their citizens just isn't at the top of the govt's agenda, so these missions are probably very important, because it is possible that eye care would not become a national health priority until the economic condition for the undeveloped country had change significantly. So these mission may be the only source of care that these citizens will receive for a long time to come.

    Also, these missions hopefully will help raise awareness of the seriousness of the problem, at the same time help a portion of the population. of course, i agree local capacity building, need-based targeting and effective monitoring are all important, but the same can be said for any international assistant programs.

    has any costs/benefits analysis been done on the voluntary vs. PH approach?

    One more questions, please correct me if i'm wrong, it looks like most of these programs are for optometrists, are there any for optometry student (like 1st year or 2nd years)?

    thanks
  12. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    You've just started down a very public health style of questioning. Good for you. The public health world is moving away from foreign provision of care toward capacity building. This is difficult work but necessary. Eye care is lagging behind. VISION 2020, the accepted global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020 (of which refractive error is one), calls solely for capacity building. We are not talking about training western style optometrists. Many programs use local people to do basic refractive exams and refer up the chain of care for more serious things (See Socjo, IRC )

    It is the responsibility of the global public health community to educate governments of the economic benefit of blindness prevention. It is often necessary to inject foreign money into a program until it can become self sustaining.

    The Aravind Eyecare system is THE model of community based eyecare that starts with the use of low level practitioners who refer up the chain of care for problems they cannot handle. Aravind


    No. But this is necessary work. This study has been talked about but I've not seen any publications. Hopefully someone is doing this.

    Most schools have a "Student VOSH" program. Some go on a trip every year and limit it to third and fourth year students. Others go on multiple trips every year and open it to all students. Student VOSH

    One of the main reasons I went to PUCO was their Amigos Eyecare group. I went to Palestine in my first year, Honduras in my second, Moldova in my Third. I went on a fourth trip as an optometrist. Every trip after my first was a selfish trip as I became an anti-eye care mission guy in the middle of my trip to Palestine. It was tough to think we were doing good work after we were told that our services were not desired nor welcome. I saw their point and have been struggling to figure out a way to change the optometric public health view ever since. I have been very unsuccessful but hope that a paper I'm having published in Optometry (in August) will spark more discussion and thought.

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