IRIS The Visual Group has launched its seventh annual fundraising campaign for the non-profit organization IRIS Mundial. Founded in 2001 by Dr. Jean-Pierre Tchang, optometrist, IRIS Mundial aims to improve the vision health of disadvantaged people in developing countries such as Haiti and Peru.
The video above shows IRIS Mundial's 2013 mission in Île Gonâve, Haiti.
The campaign is running throughout the month of February in the 164 IRIS stores across Canada. As the leading financial partner of IRIS Mundial since 2008, the IRIS network of stores actively participates by donating $10 to the organization for each pair of glasses sold. IRIS also encourages the public to give their preowned eyewear a second life by bringing them into one of their 164 locations Canada-wide. Their generosity enables disadvantaged individuals to obtain eye exams, eyewear and cataract surgery, thereby improving their quality of life. To date, IRIS stores have raised over $600,000 for IRIS Mundial, including $85,000 in 2013. Their goal for 2014 is to reach $100,000 with the help of their loyal customers and employees.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 285 million people have a visual impairment. Among them, 39 million are blind. 80% are from avoidable causes. Furthermore, nearly 90% of people with a visual impairment live in a developing country.
Financial aid made it possible to implement the Program for the Prevention and Fight against Blindness (PPFB) in the FODES-5 area of intervention in Haiti. This initiative has given nearly 10,000 adults and children access to comprehensive eye health care. The program helped in hiring staff and providing the equipment needed to establish an ophthalmology clinic in the Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Health Centre in Labrousse, Haiti. The success of this three-year program led to a similar initiative in 2013 in Limbé, a small town in Northern Haiti.
While promoting greater autonomy in the provision of eye care in developing countries, IRIS Mundial seeks to establish permanent eye care services through partnerships with local organizations.
In addition to these two permanent programs in Haiti, IRIS Mundial has already carried out over 20 projects primarily in Haiti, Peru, Mexico, Benin, Mozambique and India. Under the leadership of Dr. Jean-Pierre Tchang, hundreds of volunteers have participated in these humanitarian projects, which offer free preventive and curative services in regions where eye care is
non-existent. IRIS Mundial projects have provided aid to over 60,000 people, and over 700 people have benefited from surgical treatments.
Generally, some thirty Canadian volunteers (optometrists, opticians, ophthalmologists and other professionals) take part in these projects and work in collaboration with local professionals, providing eye health care to 2,000 to 3,000 people. These short-term missions offer disadvantaged populations a first experience of eye care services, including prescription glasses and medication to those in need and even eye surgery to treat cataracts, for instance. The goal of these projects is to identify the most common vision problems, as well as assess needs and the possibility of establishing a permanent program providing access to eye care year-round.
[IRIS The Visual Group website]