World Sight Day 2016 urges action against avoidable blindness and visual impairment

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World Sight Day's 2016 hopes to spring medical professionals and the public into action on preventable blindness and vision impairment worldwide. For info visit www.iapb.org

World Sight Day (WSD) is a chance to focus on impact of avoidable blindness and visual impairment worldwide.

And a large part of that is highlighting the global issue, which is epidemic in developing countries and those without regular access to eye care professionals.

Held annually on the second Thursday of October, this year’s theme is ‘Universal Eye Health’, which is in keeping with the World Health Organization’s Action Plan 2014-2019.

This year’s ‘Call to Action’ focuses on the eye care industry’s ability to be ‘Stronger Together’ to help a broad range of demographics and nations by focusing on areas where need is greatest.

“This World Sight Day, ask your health official or key stakeholder to join you in pledging support for blindness prevention efforts,” Organizers said in detailing this year’s WSD pledge. “Identify a list of activities that you can do locally so that avoidable blindness can be reduced in your area of work. Then, invite the community to pledge support so that there is “no more avoidable blindness” in the community.”

WSD is also a day for raising awareness and informing potential customers and donors of the causes of avoidable blindness and means of eradicating them, either during eye exams or through communicating the message abroad.

Eye exams are the first step in diagnosing cataract, glaucoma, refractive errors or diabetic retinopathy, and organizers said the day is an opportunity to springboard that message.

Laying out the facts, four out of five blind people are needlessly impaired by preventable causes (about 80 per cent of total global visual impairment) and about 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide.

At least 90 per cent of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries, and either lack the finances to access eye care in their health systems, or lack access altogether.

Some solutions suggested to eye care professionals and companies worldwide is the investment into eye health initiatives in their annual budgets, as well as provide assistance or funding for training, innovation and research into areas that suffer from a human resources crisis in eye health. Health care providers can also look at withdrawing users fees to the poorest, WSD organizers suggest.

An official event of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), the event has been marked in many different ways in countries around the world each year since then.

WSD provides a platform for organizations to encourage governments, corporations, institutions and individuals to actively support global blindness prevention efforts, and is supported by over 154 IAPB member organizations.

These include every major eye care NGO in the world, apex professional bodies for ophthalmology and optometry, teaching hospitals and corporations, united in working together to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

This year, IAPB challenges amateur and professional photographers around the world to join us in highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives, by taking part in an International Photography Competition with theme, ‘Stronger Together’.

For more information visit photocomp.iapb.org or join the social media awareness by hashtagging #StrongerTogether

Optometry Giving Sight is urging all members of the optical community and those who value vision to take part in the World Sight Day Challenge for the month of October.

The World Sight Day Challenge is the largest annual global fundraising campaign to address avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refractive error, and monthly or annual donations can help.

For more information visit www.givingsight.org/get-involved/world-sight-day-challenge.html

Or for more information on the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness, visit www.iapb.org/

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