Happy World Sight Day

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On the second Thursday of October, people all around the world celebrate World Sight Day. This global event draws attention to blindness, visual impairments, and the prevention methods of both. It’s praised as the, “most important advocacy and communications event on the eye health calendar.”

History

World Sight Day was originally created in 2000 as part of the SightFirst Campaign launched by the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF). It was then incorporated into VISION 2020, a global initiative to, “eliminate avoidable blindness as a public health problem by the year 2020.” World Sight Day is organized every year by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO). IAPB takes on the responsibility of deciding on each year’s theme and creating the main materials. From there, members and organizations plan their own events.

In 2017, there were 608 World Sight Day events throughout 115 countries. These events ranged from seminars to donation drives and even online-only events.

Woman and child smiling with the words, "Vision First! 2019 World Sight Day 217 million people with moderate or severe distance vision impairment #WorldSightDay" and the IAPB logo

Purpose

World Sight Day has a few goals they focus on every year. Firstly, they want to raise public awareness. Educating the public about blindness and visual impairments as an international health issue is crucial to this cause. Secondly, IAPB wants governments around the world to implement blindness prevention programs through World Sight Day participation and allocated funds. Lastly, they want their target audience to learn about blindness prevention, spread the word about VISION 2020’s goal, and gather support for related activities.

All these efforts equate to meeting their goal of eliminating preventable blindness around the world.

Stats & Prevention

There are a few prevalent causes of preventable blindness. Some of these include:

  1. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism and other uncorrected refractive errors
  2. Unoperated cataracts
  3. Untreated Glaucoma
  4. Diabetic retinopathy

Did you know that approximately…

  • 90% of people with visual impairments are in developing countries
  • 65% of people with visual impairments are over the age of 50
  • 19 million children have a significant visual impairment; many of which are preventable
  • 1.4 million children have lifelong vision loss

There are steps you can take to preserve your sight and avoid preventable blindness. Some of these steps include:

  1. Regular eye exams – Early detection is a great way to prevent future vision loss
  2. Learn about your family’s vision history – Some preventable vision issues are genetic
  3. Quit smoking and drink less alcohol – These can lead to an increased chance of getting cataracts and other vision issues
  4. Wear eye protection – Preventing eye injury is a sizable step in preventing vision loss

2019 World Sight Day logo

This Year’s Theme

World Sight Day 2019 falls on October 10th. This year they’re continuing with their theme “Universal Eye Health” for the seventh year in a row with a focus on “Vision First!” This year’s goal is to, “find the solutions to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to sight.”

“More than a billion people cannot see well, because they don’t have access to glasses. Over 3 out of 4 of the world’s vision impaired are avoidably so. What can be done to arrest this unconscionable fact? First, arm yourself with your country’s prevalence data and Eye Health system information–the number of trained eye health personnel, your country’s plans to tackle blindness.”

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This post was written by Jessica Sanders

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