Special Olympic World Games in Berlin 2023

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Under the motto #Together Unbeatable, the Special Olympics Word Games 2023 took place in Berlin from 17 to 25 June - and some of the students from the Ernst Abbe University of Applied Sciences Jena were right in the middle of it!

Nearly 18,000 volunteers made possible a joyful celebration of inclusion, which the opening words called the biggest international sporting event in Germany since the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Opening Eyes", a part of the low-threshold health service "Healthy Athletes" for the athletes, was dedicated to the athletes' vision. The volunteers at Opening Eyes came from various fields of eye health care, including 19 ophthalmologists, 2 orthoptists, 28 optometrists, 111 optometry students from Aalen, Berlin, Brandenburg, Jena and Munich, 25 opticians, 18 optician trainees and 46 helpers from the social sector. As last year, Stefan Schwarz (Hildesheim), Prof. Dr. Werner Eisenbarth (Munich) and Thomas Pohlenz (Potsdam) led the programme as key volunteers.
For the helping students from Jena, it was 6:00 on Wednesday morning, 21 June, when they left Jena-Westbahnhof station for Berlin, where they were allowed to carry out their first examinations that same afternoon.  The vision screening of numerous athletes took place in a "Parcour des Sehens". In other stations of the Healthy Athletes programme, hearing, dental and oral health and mental well-being were examined.

In the "Parcour des Sehens" after an anamnesis, colour and stereo vision, the anterior segment of the eye, the retina and visual acuity were examined, among other tests. The decision was made in the end: How can the athletes be helped to see better? Should a visit to the doctor be recommended? Would glasses help? High refractive errors and astigmatisms were not uncommon here; with values of more than -20 dpt, the ranges of availability were greatly exhausted. Thanks to the intensive work of the apprentices in the training workshop, the prescribed glasses were ready for collection within two days, so that the volunteers were often able to see the enthusiastic athletes when they picked them up. Sponsored by the companies Essilor-Luxottica and Safilo.
For participants from other countries, especially from Africa, getting glasses was of great importance, as quite a few of them had not yet had the opportunity to have an ophthalmological examination. There was a high incidence of cataract among athletes from Africa, and quite a few participants were fitted with glasses for the first time, sometimes with more severe refractive anomalies. The entire team agreed on the importance of this volunteer work, which was a win-win situation for both sides: People with intellectual disabilities had barrier-free and low-threshold access to vision screening and could receive new glasses free of charge. The volunteers experienced the spectrum, the diversity of the term "disability", which often "disappeared at once" in the relaxed atmosphere of the event. There was also unanimity that these experiences and insights gained at this great festival should definitely be taken into everyday life, especially in the workplace, and should be developed further.
The Special Olympics are considered the largest inclusive sports movement for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities worldwide. Around 6,500 athletes, 3,000 coaches and support staff from 190 countries took part this year. 4,002 medals and 9,970 awards for 4th to 8th place were presented. Of the total 8,000 examinations estimated for Healthy Athletes, as many as 15,351 examinations were carried out in the end. 2,938 of them at Opening Eyes. On the four days alone when the students from Jena were on site, the Opening Eyes team counted more than 1,000 examinations. A total of 1,507 free glasses were prescribed.
Exhausted but happy, the students from Jena returned to Jena after the closing ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate on Monday night. They had exhausting, challenging, but also emotionally intense and very beautiful days at the World Games in Berlin. The Opening Eyes programme is sponsored by the Lions Club and the Golisano Foundation in cooperation with Safilo, EssilorLuxottica, the ZVA and other partners.

More information: Berlin2023.org or specialolympics.de

Text: Alexander Simon and Dr Udo Hennighausen Photos: Alexander Simon

Contact for questions: Dr. Udo Hennighausen: Udo.Hennighausen@web.de

Eye examinations for people with intellectual disabilities

Stefan Schwarz will give a lecture on the topic of "Eye examinations in people with intellectual disabilities" at the SICHT.KONTAKTE 2023 congress on 7 October. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states in § 25 that people with disabilities have the same rights to health as other people. This has consequences for examiners and practitioners. The lecture will use the example of people with intellectual disabilities (PwD) to explain how eye examinations that meet the special needs of this group are carried out. The current research situation will be discussed and then the practical implementation will be discussed.  www.sichtkontakte.de