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In the wake of record numbers of damaging hurricanes across the U.S. and its territories, the optical community stepped up to help.

The 2017 hurricane season has landed itself among the top 10 most active ones on record, according to The Weather Company. Between early August and late September, seven hurricanes—that included Harvey, Irma and Maria—devastated many cities and suburbs as well as Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico. Just when it seemed the destruction was over, another one was right behind it.

To help the communities that suffered devastation and terrible loss, the optical industry pitched in quickly and truly helped to make a difference. While there will be ongoing needs moving into the new year, there were—and are—numerous efforts in place for patients to receive the eyecare they need.

MOBILE CLINICS AND MONEY
VSP Global arrived in Houston on September 11 with its VSP Global Eyes of Hope 40-foot mobile eyecare clinic. The rolling clinic allowed local eyecare professionals (ECPs) whose offices were affected by the storm a clean and safe space to provide care and resources to patients. As of September 20, the clinic had seen nearly 350 people in need, and a second mobile clinic was ready to be deployed to Florida to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.

VSP’s 40-foot mobile eyecare clinic.

In addition to the mobile clinic, VSP has provided 4,000 gift certificates to be distributed by local charitable agencies. Houston residents can redeem the certificates at any local VSP network doctor’s office for a comprehensive eye exam and eyewear at no cost. Lastly, the company is matching employee donations to the Red Cross–up to $25,000.

Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc. coordinated with Texas State Optical, Today’s Vision and Houston Eye Associates, among other local organizations, to provide comprehensive relief packages in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. ZEISS customers have been able to obtain financial assistance and support for rebuilding professional practices.

SALES THAT SALVAGED
Wiley X kicked off its nationwide relief effort with a $5,000 donation to the disaster relief fund dedicated to hurricanes Harvey and Irma victims. Additionally, 10% of all retail sales and 5% of dealer purchases were given to the same fund. Wiley X also encouraged its employees and sales associates from around the globe to help in other ways such as giving blood or dedicating time to help.

Coming together to support Together With Texas, brands such as David Kind, Trumaker and Taylor Stitch have donated $2 of every sale through the end of September to the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

TEAMWORK AT WEST
When the vision industry literally came together during Vision Expo West, attendees and exhibitors who were interested in helping were directed to donate to Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief (OFDR), a subsidiary of Optometry Cares, The AOA Foundation. OFDR is able to respond to ECPs within days of a catastrophic event; it provides immediate financial assistance so that practices can stay open and support the community’s eyecare needs.

Vision Expo also encouraged contributions to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief fund through The American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners and its affiliates: the Contact Lens Society of America, Opticians Association of America and the National Academy of Opticianry.

While at Vision Expo West, Costa committed to pledging 100% of its profits from orders placed at the show to the Red Cross hurricane relief efforts. After Hurricane Harvey, Costa assembled hundreds of gear packs for first responders on site in Houston while more than 20,000 T-shirts were sent to area shelters for those in need of basic necessities. Based in Daytona Beach, FL, Costa’s team was within the affected zone of Hurricane Irma. “It is hard to find the words to explain how amazing and selfless our Costa team has been,” said CEO Holly Rush.
Costa’s #OneCoast campaign helps to drive donations to the Red Cross hurricane relief fund as well as a new fund called WARF (Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund) which, through longtime partners at the International Game Fish Association, will support anglers and their communities in the aftermath of natural disasters.

“There is much work to be done to help fellow Americans recover from the devastation of hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters recently impacting our country,” said Myles Freeman, Jr., co-owner of Wiley X, Inc. “In times like these, it is vital to support relief efforts organized by trusted humanitarian organizations with much-needed funds, time or manpower.”

Kaitlyn Robertson has been writing for over a decade, with the majority of that time spent in the eyewear field.

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