World Sight Day
, which falls on October 8th, 2009
, seeks to be an 'eye-opener' of sorts
with its theme 'Gender and Eye Health'
to ensure gender equality in the access of eye care services, which is
unfortunately not the case in the world today. There is also a need to step up
focus on visual impairment, blindness and rehabilitation of victims worldwide
in the light of the VISION-2020
|80% of blindness can be prevented|
It is observed that men and women
over 50 years of age are vulnerable to visual impairment. Nearly 90% of people
who go blind are from the developing countries. The main causes of chronic
blindness are glaucoma, diabetic
retinopathy, cataract, trachoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
Children could face problems in their vision due to deficiency of Vitamin A
accounts for the largest cause of blindness in the world. Close to 18 million
are blind because of the
condition. In India, cataract accounts for 62.6
percent of blindness.
• Six million
people are blind due to Trachoma
serious infection which could eventually cause the victim's eye lashes to turn
inwards and hurt the eye with every blink.
• Vitamin A
has also resulted in nearly 1.5
blind children. Another 500,000 may go blind every year if their
diet is not spruced up.
account for about 5 million
people with impaired vision. Many of them continue to suffer low vision as they
are unable to afford spectacles. These can be remedied with timely optical
blindness' is not prevented....
It can wreak havoc on people's
lives. More than 75% of adults who go blind cannot lead fulfilling lives; they
cannot be employed and this can have a huge impact on their lives. For children
who go blind, it is akin to nipping their life in the bud. Close to 90 % of
blind children do not attend school, especially in developing and under
At present 64% of blind people in the world are women and
girls. Could it be due the fact that men have better access to eye care
services as compared to women?
• Conditions like trachoma and cataract affect women more
than men, notwithstanding their age.
• Access to eye care services for women and girls is not
equal to that of men and boys; the fair sex does not approach eye-care services
as much as men do.
• Women in many countries outlive men, and this could hold
a clue for problems of age-related macular degeneration among them.
Women have 'Right to Sight'
Women need better access to eye
care services. In many developing nations, eye care services for women are not
on the health agenda. Health authorities in the national level need to
recognize the existing gender differences in access to eye care services. This
could be the first step to reducing the disparity in eye-care treatment for
Education and awareness about
the causes of blindness must begin at the family level. Programs must be kick
started at the district and community level as well. With respect to women,
families and men folk must be educated about the significance of sight
restoring operations / treatment for women, to help them get back their sight.
Blind women cannot contribute to the well-being of the family with ease.
Initially they will be tolerated and gradually find themselves becoming a
liability to the family. With access to timely treatment women with impaired
vision can bounce back and lead more fulfilling lives.
Let us not lose sight of what needs to be done to
improve eye care services for women as with them rests the key to better and