Preventable blindness and eye care delivery as a public health issue is of paramount importance to tackling the problem. Uncorrected refractive error accounts for over 50% of unnecessary vision impairment. The world's visually impaired will be the subject of some serious discussion at the forthcoming second World Congress of Optometry in Hyderabad.
The Hyderabad congress, from September 11 to 13, will address issues of blindness, refractive error, and vision care as an integral component of public health. It will be one of the largest gatherings of Optometrists, health professionals, and public health specialists.
‘Blindness prevention and vision correction rank with immunizations among the most cost effective of all health interventions.
The congress is hosted by the World Council of Optometry, Asia Pacific Council of Optometry, and the India Vision Institute (IVI). The conference theme, 'Accessible, quality vision and eye health', ties into WHO's 'Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014-2019', which aims to reduce 'the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by 25 per cent by 2019'. Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, is the conference chair. Professor Naidoo is associated with several universities, including in Australia and the US. Professor Naidoo said, "This conference brings together world leading experts in Public Health and clinical care.
The program is aimed at addressing the twin challenge of quality care and access." Adding, "We are really glad to host this in India as India has made tremendous strides in terms of creating access through civil society organisations and government. Concurrently Optometry is growing at a rapid pace in India and the challenge of quality of care is brought into increased focus." IVI CEO Vinod Daniel shared, "With 100 million Indians suffering from blindness-related ailments, including uncorrected refractive error - and around 10 million children with the problem, the congress could not have come to the country at a better time.
It will not only highlight and raise awareness of issues, but will also further the important strides made by India to improve both access to vision care and reduce avoidable blindness." Adding, "The congress will deliberate key issues of preventable blindness, skill development and training Optometrists, and vision care delivery as an integral element of public health." "Preparations are on in full swing for the congress, which is expected to have some 1,500 delegates attending. The conference secretariat has received over 600 abstracts. Delegates will deliberate, debate and try to find solutions not only for India, but the region and the world as well," Mr Daniel noted.