- Category: Say Eye Campaign
There are 640 million people are blind or vision impaired because they don’t have access to an eye examination and a pair of correctly perscribed glasses. The global need for vision correction has created a poverty-inducing health crisis worldwide.
World Sight Day, traditionally held on the second Thursday in October, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness about avoidable blindness and vision impairment.
An initiative of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight (a joint undertaking of the World Health Organization and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) World Sight Day highlights the importance of good vision for all people and the tragic effects that unnecessary vision impairment can have on lives when left untreated. But it also brings the positive news that the problem can be solved and that the funding needed to implement the solution is significantly lower than the annual cost to the global economy of doing nothing to resolve the problem.
On World Sight Day in 2006, the global community first learnt that uncorrected refractive error was the leading cause of vision impairment and the second leading cause of avoidable blindness. When left untreated, refractive error (including the conditions myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia) can have a major impact on the health of an individual, reducing educational and employment opportunities that often lead to poverty.
The solution is alarmingly simple – an eye examination and appropriate spectacles would restore good vision to those with refractive error. Unfortunately in a large number of developing communities eye care does not exist, and where it does, services are often unaffordable or inaccessible.
The answer is to create sufficient numbers of skilled eye care personnel to provide these services and establish infrastructure, supply systems and appropriately located vision centres for eye care providers to operate from, to ensure that access to eye care is provided. Working in co-operation with local governments, organisations, health care providers, education institutions and communities, programs are now underway to build the sustainable eye care systems to alleviate the health crisis and ensure affordable access to eye care for all.
But there is much more to be done. Our current efforts are making an impact but the scale in which we can operate is not sufficient to build enough established eye care systems to reach our goal or eliminating avoidable blindness and vision impairment by the year 2020. There is an urgent need to raise awareness amongst governments and the general community to generate the necessary support and funding to implement this grand scale solution effectively across the world.
If you want to help wage the war against avoidable blindness and vision impairment – ANYONE can get involved.
Want to be involved?
You can play an active role, whether you’re a professional, part of the eye care industry or an interested member of the public. Activities vary from country to country on World Sight Day. Visit out Events page and check out what happening across the world.
"Our initiatives are moving forward to help address this global problem. The good news is we know what the solutions are and we are witnessing good progress. However, to achieve the rate of progress required, efforts must be scaled up to build the sustainable eye care systems we know will provide the long-term solution.
To achieve this the global eye care community is working with local governments and health care providers, local communities and funding partners to ultimately create a balance of local entrepreneurial development and increased private and public partnerships to complement and strengthen the existing government or non government infrastructure.
Join the fight against avoidable blindness and vision impairment
This year World Sight Day will share the spotlight with another global initiative: the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child, which highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys around the world, and promote workable solutions in a female context.
In 2011, the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation celebrated World Sight Day in 23 countries. Celebrations included the following global activities:
- Australia - In Darwin there were eye health promotion activities at the local markets “Get your eyes checked” and vision screenings followed
- Cambodia - Vision screening activities for the local communites were organised in collaboration with our local partner in Phnom Penh
- Mozambique - Open Day Ceremony celebrations at Universidade Lurio, included presentations, low sight games, vision screening, laboratory tours, music and dance
- Nigeria - A talk show offered health education air time on TV featuring vision centre activities and community eye screenings
- Papua New Guinea - Outreach screening programs were held in local schools and women's groups via the Foundation’s eye care program
- Pakistan - In Islamabad, a new lab for children with low vision facilities was opened and the Pakistan Optometric Association assessed and screened local children
- South Africa - Widespread community eye awareness activities in local schools inclideing free screening and spectacle programs
- Tanzania - A new vision centre was launched to celebrate World Sight Day. Local people were offered eye screening and subsidised glasses
- Uganda - A launch of the innovative 'Vision Corridors' concept in the local schools in Mbale District, followed by a screenings for school children and their families
- Vietnam - Ratification of Vietnam Australia Vision Support Program, supporting development of eye care services for 43 000 school children in Ba Ria Vung Tai Province
- Sri Lanka - Community eye screenings were held and a seminar at the Health Education Bureau featured an Eye Health Promotion drama performed in Sinhala language with the theme “Get your eyes checked”. The National Eye Hospital the Foundation assessed the vision of drivers for the local school transport services
If you’d like to support World Sight Day in your country, stay up to date by visiting our Events page to see how you can get involved.
Why not join thousands of people, organisations and communities calling for equiity in access to eye care for all people – Say Eye in favour of vision for everyone... everywhere.