World Sight Day (WSD),
held on the second Thursday of October
every year, is an attempt to attract world attention on vision impairment and
blindness. The fundamental goal of WSD is to take stock of the extensive
problem of preventable blindness as well as rehabilitation of the visually
The theme for World Sight Day
2010, which falls on October 14th, enables a reality check on what
remains to be done to achieve the objectives of "Vision 2020". Rightly the
countdown has begun as embodied in the theme "Countdown to 2020: The Right to Sight". 'Right to
Sight for One and All' forms the cornerstone of WSD endeavors, clearly charted
under VISION 2020 goals. Significantly, the focus will rest on the measures
that can be adopted to tackle preventable blindness.
The Right to Sight campaign spearheaded by the International Agency for
the Prevention of Blindness and the World Health Organization will solicit the
effort of the international network of NGO's, and several similar institutions
to completely obliterate avoidable blindness by 2020.
Every five seconds, somebody in the
world is losing sight. Can we do something to change this blinding statistic?
Nearly 37 million people around the globe are unable to differentiate
between darkness and light - they are completely blind. Almost 124 million people carry fears of a
bleak future as they suffer low vision. 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.
• Cataract 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, a serious infection which could eventually cause the
victim's eye lashes to turn inwards and hurt the eye with every blink.
• Vitamin A
Deficiency has also resulted in nearly 1.5 million blind children. Another
500,000 may go blind every year if their diet is not spruced up.
• Refractive errors
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 correction.
Let Children See the World
"The chief handicap of the blind is not
blindness, but the attitude of people towards them." Helen Keller
There are nearly 1.4 million young whose childhood stands
marred by blindness. According to a WHO statistic nearly 75% of the world's
blind children belong to the underprivileged regions of Asia and Africa.
Childhood blindness may be the
result of a cluster of diseases manifesting during childhood or during the
onset of puberty. If untreated, this could lead to severe impairment of vision
that is seldom revocable. Congenital abnormalities, for example, cataract,
retina dystrophies and glaucoma is a worldwide phenomenon resulting in visual
impairment or even blindness. One of the prominent causes of blindness in
children is deficiency of Vitamin A. The solution is simple and inexpensive and
well within reach- Vitamin A supplements.
Further, 60% of children who lose
their sight do not survive beyond a year of their blindness. Among those who
survive, almost 90% of them are unable to blossom like normal children and are
nipped in the bud due to the disability.
It is here that timely medical
intervention could play a crucial role in enabling timely remedies for chronic
eye problems and save children from completely losing vision.
Let There Be Light - VISION 2020
80% of blindness is preventable
with timely examination and proper treatment.
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 developed countries. The
ray of hope is that more than 100 million people could be saved if the
objectives of VISION 2020 see the light of day.
VISION 2020 teams across the world have been distributing
many millions of Vitamin A capsules on an annual basis in regions where
deficiency is the leading cause of child blindness. Further, pediatric eye care
services are also being spruced up on a war footing. Vision 2020 is also
involved in providing low cost options to correct refractive errors especially
in underprivileged areas.
Keller said, "The most beautiful world is always entered through
imagination." Let us join hands, and see eye to eye in envisioning sight
for one and all!