Sydney, Australia, 9 October, 2012: Leading authority, Professor Brien Holden says avoidable blindness and vision impairment costs the global economy US$202 billion in lost productivity each year but the problem could be permanently reversed with $US28 billion to provide comprehensive access to eye care.
Professor Holden, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, based at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, is passionate about sustainable solutions for eye care services worldwide. “Around 640 million people are blind or vision impaired simply because they don’t have access to a basic eye examination and affordable glasses,” he says. “The sad part is vision impairment is directly linked to poverty but so easy to correct. This is just unnecessary suffering.”
Holden says it makes no sense not to find the money to resolve the problem this World Sight Day (11 October). “With US$28 billion we could develop sustainable systems – the eye care personnel and facilities needed to provide eye care for the most common conditions and save US$202 billion every year thereafter.
“It’s hard to imagine the size of the problem. If 640 million people had free tickets to watch Usain Bolt win the 100 metres, you’d need 8 000 London 2012 Olympic Stadiums. If they lay head-to-toe they would stretch around the world’s circumference 25 times and weigh more than 800 times the Sydney Harbour Bridge, give or take a kilo.”
Professor Holden and the Institute are asking the world to take action, says Dr David Wilson. “We launched the All those in favour SAY EYE campaign to ask everyone to take action – get their eyes checked and tell others to do the same or start a conversation about eye care and help raise awareness.”
Dr Wilson says to be proactive, “People can start by reading MYTHS ABOUT YOUR EYES – BUSTED, a quick and quirky guide about how to avoid vision impairment and sinking into poverty.”
“Here are a few favourites of mine. Eating carrots will improve your vision. That’s NOT QUITE TRUE. This myth came from counter-intelligence created during WWII by British forces to explain why their pilots had such good night vision, when the real reason was radar. Vitamin A is good for your eyes but won’t improve vision.
“Watching TV and screens can be bad for your eyes. NOT TRUE, but not blinking while you are in front of a screen can cause eye strain and headaches but not permanent damage.
“Walking on grass will improve your vision. This is popular in Pakistan and some Asian populations and while it’s NOT TRUE, it is good for general health which can affect your eyes.”
Here’s a tip for getting ACTIVE: See an optometrist and take a friend, eye examinations are free in most locations. Get your eyes checked every two years or before if you notice a change in your vision.
Share the vision and download MYTHS ABOUT YOUR EYES – BUSTED online now.