AOA volunteers provide eye and vision care to thousands in 2015

AOA volunteers provide eye and vision care to thousands in 2015

Urban Optiks Optometry, in San Diego, California, hosts its second-annual fundraising event, with more than $7,000 raised for Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation. From left, Erika Caesar, Gary Klein, O.D., and Kari Gridley, of Urban Optiks.

As the country celebrates National Volunteer Week, doctors of optometry can be counted among the millions of people in the U.S. who annually volunteer their time and energy to causes that make a difference to their communities.

"Giving back to those less fortunate is both personally and professionally rewarding."

Doctors were particularly generous in giving their time to Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation. According to Optometry Cares:

  • About 7,200 AOA-member doctors provided 8,738 babies with no-cost, comprehensive eye and vision assessments last year under Optometry Cares' InfantSEE® program.
  • About 2,860 members provided 2,943 low-income individuals with eye examinations over that same period through the foundation's Vision USA program.

Optometry Cares' mission is to expand eye care awareness, education and research, as well as access to eye health and vision care, to everyone in the U.S. in order to enhance human performance and quality of life.

Across the U.S., 62.6 million people spent an average of 52 hours volunteering from September 2014 through September 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top three volunteer activities were:

  • Collecting, preparing, distributing and serving food
  • Tutoring or teaching
  • Fundraising 

About 300 runners participated in the 2015 5K Run/Walk at last year's Optometry's Meeting® in Seattle and raised about $30,000. Click here to read about this year's run/walk at Optometry's Meeting in Boston, sponsored by Transitions and The Vision Council. Urban Optiks Optometry, the San Diego, California, practice of owner Gary Klein, O.D., took the fundraising route, too.

For the past two years, Urban Optiks' staff, optical vendors and community members have partnered to host their signature event "Raise Your Glasses," a trunk show and fundraiser. Held on March 15, the event raised more than $7,000 for Optometry Cares through a silent auction and opportunity drawing.

"Over 200 patients, customers, friends and community partners attended," Dr. Klein says. "We are very excited with the amount raised and very proud to make a donation again this year."

Proceeds from the fundraiser will help support Optometry Cares' programs, including:

  • InfantSEE, which has provided eye and vision assessments to more than 126,000 babies nationwide since its inception in 2005. The program is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc., Opticare and Centene Charitable Foundation, The Allergan Foundation, and CareCredit.
  • Vision USA, which is available in 40 states and the District of Columbia and has provided about 430,000 eye examinations to low-income individuals since the program launched in 1991.
  • Optometry's Fund for Disaster Relief, which provides immediate financial relief for doctors of optometry who experience catastrophic loss of their office or home.
  • Endowment and Scholarship Fund, which was established to develop and support donations primarily in the form of scholarships and tributes.
  • The Archives and Museum of Optometry, which collects and preserves historical records, publications and artifacts for the profession.

"Giving back to the community has always been a cornerstone of business model," Dr. Klein says. "From a philanthropic side, I feel that helping those less fortunate is both personally and professionally rewarding."

For information on getting involved with any of the programs of Optometry Cares, contact the foundation's director, Rebecca Hildebrand, at

April 13, 2016

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