TOMS Supports World Sight Day 2012 To Raise Awareness For Those With Avoidable Blindness And Visual Impairments

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- This year, TOMS will once again align with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) by generating awareness in support of World Sight Day on October 11, 2012. World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness created to focus global attention on blindness, visual impairment and rehabilitation of the visually impaired.

"Nearly every single human being can identify with not being able to see clearly, whether it's personally or through knowing someone who has had an issue with his or her eye sight," said Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS. "Realizing that so many millions of people are struggling with this issue each and every day, we feel compelled to continue to do our part to raise awareness and help those in need."

According to WHO and VISION2020, the magnitude of visual impairment and blindness and their causes have been estimated as follows:

  • About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide.
  • 39 million people are blind.
  • 19 million children are visually impaired.
  • About 90% of the world's visually impaired people live in developing countries.
  • Globally, uncorrected refractive errors (often correctable with glasses) are the main cause of visual impairment.
  • Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness.

Leading up to World Sight Day 2012, TOMS is activating both online and offline through the creation of a dedicated microsite, and will be harnessing the power of social media and numerous events. Online, TOMS supporters can go to to learn more about this important issue and find out how they can personally participate. Visitors can also download World Sight Day toolkits that include uniquely inspiring eye charts, and are invited to utilize a new hashtag, #GIVEsight, through social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Offline, specially created vision distortion scrims have been placed in landmark locations around the world – LA, New York, Austin, TX, London, Toronto, and Manila – and will travel to additional locations leading up to World Sight Day. Anyone looking through a scrim will experience what it is like, albeit briefly, to have a visual impairment such as glaucoma or cataracts.

Each year, two million children in the United States have undiagnosed or uncorrected vision problems. Without glasses, children with poor vision struggle in school. This year, on the morning of World Sight Day, through its lead sight-giving partner, Seva Foundation, TOMS is partnering with Helen Keller International's domestic program, ChildSight®, in New York City to help give sight to children in need. Over 200 students at a middle school in downtown Manhattan will have their vision tested, and over 50 of them will receive new prescription glasses.

TOMS' World Sight Day 2012 activation will culminate with a private, one night only event in downtown Austin, Texas, at Symphony Square. TOMS has curated a special gallery exhibit with some of the art world's most interesting names showing World Sight Day-inspired works, featuring John Van Hamersveld, Magda Sayeg, Franc Fernandez, Kate Schelter and select Austin-based artists. Van Hamersveld, a legend in art and music, will be on hand signing limited edition World Sight Day lithographs. The evening will be highlighted by live music performances by Kishi Bashi, Tennis and Vacationer.

Since launching, TOMS is on track to help give sight by the end of 2012 to over 100,000 people in need in 13 countries through the purchase of TOMS Eyewear. TOMS helps give sight through sustainable eye care organizations worldwide that use TOMS' support to provide patients with prescription eyeglasses, sight-saving surgery, and medical treatment. TOMS' giving program is supported and administered by the company's lead sight giving partner, Seva Foundation. Based in northern California, Seva has been implementing sustainable blindness prevention and sight restoration programs for over 30 years. Seva programs and partners have helped nearly three million people worldwide to see again.

About TOMS: In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in a village in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One™. Last year, TOMS evolved from a shoe company into the One for One company, and is now addressing an entirely new need in addition to shoes through eyewear – helping give sight to people in need around the world.

Doug Piwinski – TOMS
310. 228. 8801