VOSH: The Human Right to Sight

Posted on 2014/01/06 at 9:33 am by LASIK MD

Advances in technology have eliminated many types of “preventable blindness” in North America, but in less fortunate corners of the world, children and adults alike still struggle to receive basic eyecare, and many lose their sight to conditions easily prevented with simple medical treatments. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cataracts—a clouding of the eye’s lens—are responsible for 51 percent of world blindness cases, which equates to 20 million people per year. To combat this lack of adequate medical care, Dr. Franklin Harms created the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) organization, which over the past forty years has sent teams of trained optometrists to every corner of the globe with a single goal: Free eye care for the less fortunate.

The Continuing Cause

As Dr. Harms discovered in the 1970s, optometrists are a generous group, willing to give their time and expertise to those less fortunate. What started as a small group in Kansas quickly spread to other states and eventually other countries, and in 1979 became VOSH International. Thanks to support from corporations, government agencies, and the American Optometric Association (AOA), the volunteer organization has been able to take a leading role on the world stage, from participating in UNESCO meetings to becoming a member of the World Council of Optometry (WCO). Perhaps most exciting, however, is their partnership with the WHO in “Vision 20/20—The Right to Sight,” which aims to eliminate preventable blindness around the world by the year 2020.

Corporate Responsibility

In addition to individual optometrists giving their time, VOSH also benefits from corporate sponsorships. LASIK MD, which specializes in laser vision correction—and has its own 20/20 Vision Commitment—has been a proud supporter of the charitable effort since 2010. The company believes in environmentally and socially responsible corporate growth; for the past three years, 32 clinics across the United States and Canada have given their time to measure, inspect, clean, and label eyeglasses for donation to VOSH for upcoming missions, many of which were provided by patients after their LASIK eye procedures. In addition, LASIK MD recently launched their “$1/Like Donation Program,” donating one dollar to Operation Eyesight for every new “Like” on the LASIK MD Facebook page. They also donate free laser correction procedures to charities such as Operation Smile, which aims to repair childhood facial deformities.

Both VOSH and LASIK MD strive for the same goal: improving patient eyesight. The speed and effectiveness of laser eye surgery allows LASIK MD clinics to not only liberate patients from the burden of eyeglasses, but repurpose those glasses to help those less fortunate. In partnership with agencies like VOSH, LASIK MD is proud to do its part on the road to 20/20 vision.

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