It is an initiative of 'VISION 2020: The
Right to Sight' which is a joint undertaking of the World Health Organization
(WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
'VISION 2020: The Right to Sight' is a global initiative which aims to
eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.
The first World Sight
Day was commemorated on October 8, 1998. This year's World Sight Day is on October 8, 2015
. The theme for World Sight
Day 2015 is 'Eye Care for All'
About 39 million people worldwide are blind
and 246 million live with moderate or severe visual impairment
. The WHO statistics suggest
that the world's population is aging and people are living longer than before.
But, blindness from chronic conditions is also rising. About 65% of the world's
blind people are aged over 50 years.
It is estimated that over seven million people become blind
every year, and up to 80% of these cases are avoidable
i.e. they either
result from preventable eye conditions (20%) or they are readily treatable
conditions leading to blindness such as cataract
, refractive error and glaucoma
can also be treated easily. Timely intervention can often delay or reduce their
effects on an individual's vision. However, about 90% of blind people live in low-income countries, where older
people and especially older women often face difficulties to get the necessary
eye health care.
With the help of local
communities, associations such as the Lions Club, and non-government
organizations, the WHO and IAPB promote the day for the following purposes:
- To raise public awareness on the prevention and treatment of
- To raise awareness on the importance of eye health care and the
need for providing quality eye care services for all.
- To influence governments to designate funds for national
blindness prevention programs.
- To educate target audiences and to generate support for VISION
2020 and its activities.
The WHO and IAPB are actively involved in
coordinating various events and activities to mark the World Sight Day.
Activities such as tree plantation, photo competitions, fund raising walks,
book reading for the blind, distribution of informative posters, booklets or
leaflets help to raise awareness about preventable blindness.
On the occasion of World
Sight Day 2015, the IAPB urges people to focus
on everybody who need eye care services
, especially the most vulnerable or
the ones most in need. The causes of avoidable blindness
is frequently associated with extreme poverty and lack of access to primary eye
care services. Providing quality access to eye care will reduce the magnitude
of avoidable blindness.
The IAPB urges
organizations and eye care professionals to ensure that access to eye care is
not limited by gender or geographic location, or even financial status. It has
also suggested that 'Eye Health' not
only means prevention or treatment of avoidable blindness, but also includes
rehabilitation and providing assistive services for visually impaired people
with irreversible vision loss
Thus, the annual World
Sight Day highlights the importance of good vision
for everyone and the limiting effects
that uncorrected vision impairment can have on people's lives. Several events
will take place across the world to mark this occasion.