We need vision for
nearly all our activities. And yet, we often take it for granted, and do not
give our eyes the care they need. A view on the statistics reveal some
- Around 80% cases
of blindness are preventable
- Around 90% of
visually impaired individuals live in the developing countries
- Around 289
million people all over the world have some form of visual impairment;
around 39 million people are blind and 246 million suffer from
moderate-to-severe visual impairment
- Most blind
individuals are over the age of 50 years
These statistics reflect
the lack of awareness and the reduced availability of eye care facilities in
the developing countries, and can be addressed easily through programs carried
out by non-government organizations as well as the local governments.
‘“Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.” – Hellen Keller’
Common causes of visual
impairment are as follows:
rolling theme for the World Sight Day is 'Universal Eye Health' with the Call
to Action this year being 'Make Vision Count'
- Uncorrected refractive errors are the most common
causes of visual impairment. In fact,
the urban areas are almost seeing an epidemic of short-sightedness among
children. Refractive errors need early diagnosis through a simple eye
check and correction of vision with spectacles. Unfortunately, the cost of
the spectacles may be prohibitive to some poor sections of the society
- The increased
aging population reiterates the importance of addressing vision problems
in the elderly. Older individuals
usually suffer from conditions like cataract and age-related macular degeneration.
Cataract operations, which have become much simpler nowadays, should be
within the reach of those who need it.
diseases like diabetes and hypertension, which are more common nowadays,
also affect the eyes. High blood
pressure and uncontrolled diabetes can cause retinopathy, which results in
irreversible blindness. Early diagnosis and control of these
conditions can prevent eye complications. This emphasizes the need to
check the general health of the population along with the eyes to maintain
- Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness
especially in children, and if still untreated, could first lead to night
blindness, and later complete blindness.
Infections like trachoma and onchocerciasis also cause blindness.
. Universal eye health
involves the availability of health care facilities to maintain good vision to
all individuals, either free of cost or at a cost that they can afford. On the
October this year, the IAPB will be releasing the latest data
on the prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment along with the
WHO Global Action Plan 2014-19 endorsed by governments all over the world advocates
universal eye health by the year 2019
. It aims to reduce the
number of avoidable visual impairment cases by 25% by 2019 from the number of
cases in 2010, and provide adequate rehabilitation to those with unavoidable
visual impairment, so that they can achieve their full potential.
is necessary for governments to address the issue of visual impairment
Governments should have adequate data of the existing
problem. They should invest in research and training of personnel who could
deal with eye problems at the grass root level, and provide free checks and
treatment to those who cannot afford to pay. The cost of spectacles should also
be subsidized for those who cannot afford them. After all, saving the vision of
individuals can provide much larger returns for the country in terms of
reducing the burden of disability.
What can each of us do
this World Sight Day? First of all, it
is important to go for an eye check and a general health check, especially if
you haven't had one for a long time
. Secondly, it is important to increase
awareness about regular eye check among your near and dear ones especially if
they suffer from conditions like diabetes, or are at extremes of age. Children
usually do not realize if they are suffering from eye problems and therefore
need a regular check. Poor sight adds to the disabilities of old age, and
should be treated whenever possible.
With the festive season
closing in, it is important to protect our eyes from fireworks by maintaining
adequate distance from lit fireworks and wearing glasses if possible. Beside
this, reading in adequate light and taking frequent breaks from screens will
also help to maintain good eye health and vision.
- World Sight Day 2017 - (https:www.iapb.org/)
- Universal Eye Health - (http://www.who.int/blindness/AP2014_19_English.pdf)