The World Sight Day is observed on the second Thursday of October every year. The theme for this year's World Sight Day is: No More Avoidable Blindness.
Blindness is a widespread problem throughout the world, especially in the developing countries. As the average age of people increases with increased life expectancy, vision problems are also likely to increase. It is important to note that many of the vision problems can be easily treated and prevented, which is possible if people are aware of the conditions that can affect their sight. Some of the avoidable causes of blindness include:
Advertisement• Cataract: Cataract results due to clouding of the lens in the eye. It usually occurs at an older age. Though not much can be done to prevent it, cataract can be easily treated surgically by replacing the lens with an artificial one. This surgery has now become a routine procedure with very few complications.
• Vitamin A deficiency: Vitamin A deficiency affects the eyes initially causing night blindness and complete blindness in the later stages. Adequate supplementation of vitamin A can help to avoid this condition.
• Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition that results in an increase in pressure within the eyeball. If left untreated, it can cause blindness. Some people with glaucoma do not have any symptoms. Therefore, it is necessary to get the eye pressure checked during a routine eye checkup.
• Diabetes: Diabetes causes diabetic retinopathy which in turn causes visual problems. People with diabetes are also prone to other eye problems like cataract and glaucoma. Therefore, a diabetic patient should have a well-controlled sugar level with necessary medications. It is also important to get a regular eye checkup done to detect any eye damage early.
• Refractive errors: Refractive errors should be detected and treated early with regular eye examinations. Untreated errors may worsen with time with a resultant effect on vision.
• Eye infections: Eye infections like trachoma and river blindness can cause blindness. Fortunately, the number of infections causing blindness has reduced considerably in the last few years.
Most of the above conditions can be easily prevented or treated, thereby preventing blindness. It is also important to mention here, the gift of sight that each of us can give to others after our death. The cornea can be used to treat people with corneal blindness. This will ensure that a part of us will live after our death!
The WHO Global Initiative to Eliminate Avoidable Blindness, "VISION 2020: The Right to Sight", is an endeavor by the WHO to eliminate avoidable blindness as a public health problem by the year 2020. Let us all do our bit on this World Sight Day to protect our eyesight and assist others in maintaining theirs!