World Optometry Foundation

The World Optometry Foundation (WOF) is a not-for-profit organisation that finances the development of optometry around the world to reduce avoidable blindness.

All funds raised by WOF are used to support the World Council of Optometry’s programmes and projects that:

develop or enhance education in optometry schools
provide educational materials and clinical equipment to impoverished nations
create public health programs and community outreach initiatives.

Funding and support

All funds raised by WOF are used to support the World Council of Optometry’s programmes and projects that advance and develop eye and vision care and eye health worldwide.

Donors

Over the past few years, generous donations have been received from individuals and companies that have helped fund WOF projects.

WOF’s registration in the U.S.A. allows companies and corporations based in the United States to take advantage of United States tax allowances on charitable giving. If you would like to donate to WOF, please contact us at enquiries@worldoptometry.org

How WOF funds are used

We use our money to fund fellowships and to develop sustainable eye care projects for people in need.

2011 projects

  • $65,000 as part of an ongoing commitment to the School of Optometry in Malawi.
  • AUS $137,500 as part of an ongoing commitment to the School of Optometry in Eritrea.
  • $137,500 as part of an ongoing commitment to the development programme in India.
  • £2,000 for ten students and five fully qualified optometrists from Cardiff University in the UK to participate in the Romania and Moldova Vision Project.  The students aim to provide vision care to over 2,000 impoverished people of all ages, spending time in orphanages, churches and schools.

2010 projects

  • $198,140 as part of an ongoing commitment to a programme of development of optometry, vision care and blindness prevention in India which seeks to train. 100,000 four year degree trained optometrists by the year 2030.  The project will also establish 100 schools of optometry, building on the present 50 schools and colleges, and create 1,000 PhD academics.
  • $50,000 for equipment to establish a refraction clinic for students at Universidade Lurio, Nampula, Mozambique.
  • $AU10,000 as part of an ongoing commitment to the School of Optometry in Eritrea.
  • $74,000 as part of an ongoing commitment to the School of Optometry in Malawi.

2009 projects

  • $165,000 for the regional school of optometry programme in Malawi which aims to dramatically increase the number of eye care professionals in Southern Africa.
  • $100,000 for a project in Sri Lanka to train vision technicians and establish vision centres.

Projects and initiatives

Since its inception in 2000, the World Optometry Foundation (WOF) has supported many projects to increase the availability and effectiveness of vision care programs worldwide.

The following statistics illustrate why WOF projects are so important to tackling avoidable blindness around the world.

  • 250 million people worldwide are blind or visually impaired because they lack access to an eye examination and pair of glasses.
  • Severe refractive errors have been estimated to account for about 5 million blind people.
  • 75% of the world’s blindness is preventable.
  • More than 50% of people with low vision could be helped with low vision devices or special services.
  • 90% of avoidable blindness occurs in the developing world.

Fellowship programme

Our fellowship programme provides financial assistance to optometrists and students of optometry around the world who are committed to improving vision and eye care globally.

Programme funding

Funding for this programme is provided by the World Optometry Foundation (WOF), a not-for-profit organisation that finances the global development of optometry to improve eye and vision care and reduce avoidable blindness.

All funds raised by WOF are used to support the World Council of Optometry’s initiatives, such as this Fellowship programme.

Who can receive a fellowship?

To be eligible for a fellowship or travel bursary, applicants must:

  • be a member of a WCO member organisation in good standing
  • be an optometrist  or a student of optometry
  • have not received a WCO fellowship or travel bursary in the past five years
  • not be a member of the WCO Governing Board
  • not submit more than one application.

How much financial assistance will a fellowship or travel bursary provide?

In 2013, the programme provided:

  • $10,000 for optometric projects (maximum of $5,000 per fellowship)
  • $10,000 for travel bursaries (maximum of $1,000 per bursary)

Refractive Error Study in Children (RESC)

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight lists refractive errors, alongside cataracts, trachoma, onchocerciasis and childhood blindness, among eye conditions whose prevention and elimination can yield substantial socio-economic and educational developments worldwide.

Reported studies reveal considerable geographic variations in refractive errors, yet the distribution and variation of refractive error prevalence in different populations and age, gender and race sub-groups remains largely unknown. The persistent limitations and difficulties in reporting refractive errors in peer-reviewed circles are based on definitions of refractive errors, limited representation in studied populations, variable demographics and non-uniform refractive techniques.

RESC gathers data essential to determining the magnitude and public health significance of refractive errors in children of different ethnic origins. The data are crucial in improving the delivery and output of current refractive services, and establishing new services in underserved regions worldwide.

WOF has funded RESC projects.

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations.

WOF supports VISION 2020: The Right to Sight.

Optometry Giving Sight

In 2003, the World Optometry Foundation (WOF), the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) created Optometry Giving Sight to mobilize resources from the global optometric community to help eliminate refractive error blindness and low vision.

Optometry Giving Sight was first launched in the UK in 2003, followed by Australia and the Netherlands in 2004, the United States and Canada in 2005, and Italy in 2006. In 2009, Optometry Giving Sight launched in Norway, Singapore and Ireland.

Optometry Giving Sight is the only global fundraising initiative that specifically targets the prevention of blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error – simply the need for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.

Optometry Giving Sight funds programs that offer not only eye exams and glasses in countries with little or no access to them, but that establish the infrastructure and train the local human resources required for sustainable, quality vision care.

At the end of 2011, Optometry Giving Sight will have allocated close to $5.5 million to projects that will give sight to people with refractive error blindness and impaired vision in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Indigenous Australia. The funds have been raised by optometrists, their staff, patients, and optometric students in Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Norway.

To make a donation or to learn more about Optometry Giving Sight visit: www.givingsight.org.