The Rocky Mountain Optometry office in Fenie had their eye on the prize, taking part in the World Sight Day Challenge last Wednesday in the hopes of raising funds and educating the public on vision issues in third world countries.
The campaign is the largest annual global fundraising campaign, now in its seventh year, addressing avoidable blindness cause by uncorrected refractive error — or in simple terms, the need for an eye exam and glasses.
Local optometrist Dr. J. Mann went on his first mission to Ethiopia, Africa several years ago, and he said that in third world countries like Ethiopia, access to proper eye care is almost non-existent.
“It’s an eye opener,” he admitted of the mission adding, “We take a lot of things for granted here.”
Mann mentioned clean water, safety, drug stores and places to get glasses, noting, “We have tons and tons of choice, and in other parts of the world, it doesn’t work that way. There are people that live their entire lives without an eye exam. There are people that get up all over the world, every day they get dressed and just stand against a wall because they can’t even see to walk.”
The campaign goal for 2014 was to raise $1 million globally, and Mann said that throughout the Rocky Mountain Optometry’s three offices, in Fernie, Elkford and Blairmore, their goal was to raise $4,000.
Patient fees along with government money was donated to two charities last Wednesday, the Third World Eye Care Society — a mission group that helped individuals in third world countries — and Optometry Giving Sight — the only global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision.
“The biggest problem is that without glasses, some of us can get by, [but] there are many, many people that are just functionally blind without them,” Mann said that due to loss of eyesight, many individuals can no longer drive.
The inability to drive and even walk filters down into every aspect of an individual’s life, as they loose their ability to work, putting them into economic turmoil.
“The whole idea of World Sight Day Challenge is to have countries becomeaware of the imbalance in eye care [and] to raise money so that we can go on a mission,” Mann noted. “You get back and you really can’t believe we have everything we have.”
For more information on the World Sight Day Challenge and to join Rocky Mountain Optometry in their continued fundraising efforts throughout October visit their office on Second Ave. or check out www.twecs.ca or www.givingsight.org