September President’s Insight

World Sight Day 2018: Eye Care Everywhere

Thursday October 11, 2018

World Sight Day (WSD) is observed annually on the second Thursday of October. It is a global event to draw attention to the problem of worldwide blindness and vision impairment. The aim of WSD is to increase public awareness around the world about prevention and treatment of vision loss. WSD was started by the Campaign SightFirst of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000 and has since been integrated into VISION 2020 and coordinated by The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO).

An estimated 180 million people worldwide are visually disabled. Of those, between 40 and 45 million persons are blind. Eighty percent of all cases of blindness can be prevented or treated. From the WHO website: “Prevention and treatment of vision loss are among the most cost-effective and successful of all health interventions. These interventions include: cataract surgery to cure this eye disease related to ageing; prevention of trachoma; provision of the drug ivermectin for the treatment of the infectious disease river blindness; immunization against measles; provision of vitamin A supplements for the prevention of childhood blindness; and provision of eyeglasses.”

The WHO Global Action Plan 2014-19 supports the provision of effective and accessible eye care services for effectively controlling visual impairment including blindness. The Global Action Plan’s vision states: “A world in which nobody is needlessly visually impaired, where those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential and where there is universal access to comprehensive eye care services.” Member States at the World Health Assembly (WHA) unanimously adopted this plan in 2013 as part of WHA resolution 66.4.

The annual World Sight Day provides an opportunity to become more aware and committed to ensuring the right to sight for all. Hundreds of events will take place throughout the world to mark this occasion. In 2017, IABP recorded 608 WSD events taking place in 115 countries. These events included awareness events, seminars, launches, donation drives, rallies and online events.

So what can we do? We can promote WSD and raise funds that will go towards the objectives of: increasing awareness of this public health issue; mobilizing additional resources for blindness prevention; controlling the major causes of avoidable blindness; training eye care doctors and professionals and providing appropriate technology and infrastructure. In the US and Canada, Optometry Giving Sight (OGS) provides an easy framework in which to raise funds for WSD called the WSD Challenge. For a pledge of $250 or more, OGS will provide a free WSD Challenge Practice Kit that includes wristbands, donor cards, balloons, stickers, counter card, and more. Get involved and be a part of WSD to help with the right to sight!

 

To read more about World Sight Day, WHO Global Action Plan 2014-19 and Vision 2020:

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness

https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/

https://www.iapb.org/vision-2020/

https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/global-action-plan-2014-2019/

 

Optometry Giving Sight

https://www.givingsight.org/giving/world-sight-day-challenge.html

 

World Health Organization

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/pr79/en/

 

 

Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI

President VOSH/International