MONTREAL—This year, social media's role in escalating participation among patients and ECPs in World Sight Day (Oct. 10) is growing stronger. One of the many companies taking part is Montreal-based WestGroupe, the eyewear company which also has a large presence in the U.S. and internationally, that is an Optometry Giving Sight supporter, helping to bring the global optometry community together to help end preventable vision impairment. More than 1.2 billion visually impaired people in the world have limited access to an eye exam and a pair of eyeglasses. This figure includes millions of children who depend on their sight to succeed in school. 

For the second year in a row, WestGroupe is partnering up with Optometry Giving Sight and The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), along with a complete list of collaborators, in a combined effort to educate the public on eye health, as well as to fundraise to help people in need of basic eyecare.

"WestGroupe is proud to partner with the Optometry Giving Sight Foundation and the Canadian Institute for the Blind,” said WestGroupe president Michael Suliteanu. “Together, we will work toward the goal of promoting a healthy vision and educating people on the importance of maintaining eye health. We believe that everyone has a right to quality eyecare services that is both affordable and accessible.”

To help inform the public, the #WithoutMySight social media campaign is a way to motivate people around the world to help end preventable vision loss and to better understand the immediate effects of vision loss and the importance of looking after your eye health. For every $5 raised, the foundation can provide an eye exam and a pair of glasses for someone in need.

How to take the #WithoutMySight Challenge:

1. Choose a (safe) task you’d like to perform while blindfolded (making coffee, writing an e-mail, shooting a three pointer, preparing a snack, the options are endless) .
2. Have someone record you performing the task with your blindfold on.
3. Nominate 3 other people to take the challenge.
4. Upload and share you video on your social media accounts with the tags: @WestGroupe and #WithoutMySight and #WorldSightDay.
5. Donate $5 at the following link.

WestGroupe is working with several "Champions" who have all experienced vision loss at some point in their life. They will share their stories to inspire people and demonstrate that anything is possible. "The #WithoutMySight Challenge is a way to bring attention to the importance of eye health and show how vision can be taken for granted," WestGroupe noted. "Our Champions have succeeded in all aspects of life, as entrepreneurs, athletes and engineers. They’re a source of inspiration for anyone who needs it, which is why they’ve earned the title of being our Champions."

Earlier this month, WestGroupe introduced their Champions on social media by publishing their story videos. The Challenge will launch on Oct. 10 and will continue throughout the month of October to help spread awareness and educate people on the importance of eye health.


David DemersBryan and Bradford ManningCatheryne Houde

Taking part are these Champions :

• David Demers, executive director, CNIB. Professional photographer and entrepreneur. Demers lost his sight in his late 20's.
• Bryan and Bradford Manning, founders of Two Blind Brothers, an online clothing store with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward a cure for blindness. The brothers have Stargardt's Disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes blindness over time. Check their site and unique initiatives here
• Kim Holdbrook, owner of the HANDS that SEE Massage Studio, president of Guide Dog for the Blind Montreal Chapter, "ISEEPAWS." She paddles on the Caravela dragon boat team, has appeared on several A.M.I. documentaries and is a public speaker for different causes. Holdbrook lost her vision 20 years ago due to optic neuritis.
• Jesse Dugton, a blind rock climber, the first blind person to claim first ascents of unclimbed mountains in the Arctic Circle, Greenland. He's a full-time senior patient engineer at Intelligent Energy, was born legally blind due to rod-cone dystrophy, a degenerative condition.
• David Trudel-Bergamo, community worker at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Quebec, visually-impaired with atypical pigment rentinitis since his adolescence.
• Catheryne Houde, coordinator of advocacy and accessibility for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Quebec. She has been legally blind since childhood.


Jeff Dugton

David Trudel-BergamoCatheryne Houde

WestGroupe's Collaborators include:

• Dr. Sophia Visanji, aka The Monocle Muse. She is an eye doctor in New York, a visual story teller and social media influencer, and a fashion/travel/lifestyle blogger @themonoclemuse.
• Yu Tsai, a celebrity and fashion photographer, guest photographer for America's Next Top Model, creator and host of the Street to Kitchen Asia @streettokitchenasia cooking show.
• Ashley Deemer, MD. assistant professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, University of California-San Diego and New England College of Optometry alumna and a prior Lions Low Vision Rehabilitation Fellow. She works with visually impaired patients to assist in maximizing their functional vision and is a researcher in low vision enhancement systems.
• Randy Quansah, founder and host of Kujo's Kid Zone, an online platform for quality preschool lessons and videos to promote fun and self-awareness.
• Afshan Nasseri is a lifestyle, fashion and travel influencer, who does marketing for Aavrani, a premium and non-toxic skin care company @lifesforliving.

Additional collaborators for #WithoutMySight include: the Accessories Council, FYidoctors, the Optical Women's Association, EyeRecommend, OSI Optometric Services, Opto Reseau and Dianiel Cianfarra Photography.