I’m almost out of time, but I wanted to post something in recognition of World Sight Day, 2009 – an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day is part of the VISION 2020 Global Initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, launched in 1999, jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
The VISION 2020 site provides information about the prevalence, causes, and means of preventing vision loss and blindness. Some of the facts (which come from the World Health Organization) were astonishing to me, even though I consider myself pretty well-read on the topic of vision issues:
- 80% of blindness is avoidable – either treatable, curable or preventable
- 90% of blind people live in low-income countries
- Nearly two-thirds of blind people worldwide are women & girls
- Cataract is the leading cause of blindness – yet it is curable by a simple, cost-effective operation
- 145 million people’s low vision is due to uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). In most cases, normal vision could be restored with eyeglasses.
- 8 million people worldwide are blind due to uncorrected refractive errors. A simple sight test and glasses could restore sight to most of these people
- Restorations of sight, and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
I think that having a baby (then toddler, now almost 3 year old – gah!) in glasses has really sensitived me to global vision and blindness issues. I knew that blindness was often preventable or treatable, but I had no that the number of avoidable cases was 80%. It’s gotten me wondering about ways support initiatives such as VISION 2020 to help prevent vision loss.