World Sight Day 2018

World Sight Day is a global event, originally created in 2000 by the SightFirst Campaign of the Lions Club Foundation to raise awareness of vision impairment and blindness worldwide. Since then it has been picked up and coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO). It is held on the second Thursday of October every year. This year’ World Sight Day falls on Thursday, October 11th and the theme is Eye Care Everywhere.

What are the Statistics of Vision Impairment and Blindness Worldwide?

There are roughly 285 million people living with low vision and blindness worldwide. Approximately 90% of these people are living in impoverished or low-income countries. About 19 million children worldwide are living with some form of visual impairment, with at least 12 million of them suffering from easily diagnosed and treated conditions. Approximately 65% of visually impaired people are aged 50 and older. 80% of known visual impairments are either preventable or easily diagnosed and treated. Nearly 5.5 million Canadian people currently live with a vision-threatening condition, a number that is expected to grow by at least 29% over the next ten years. Sight correction and the prevention of blindness may be some of the greatest ways to reduce the cost of health care.

Who is Involved in World Sight Day and What is Their Plan?

IAPB, working together with WHO, created the Global Initiative VISION 2020 with the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020. IAPB is made up of over 20 international organizations involved in the field of eye care and blindness prevention. Included in these organizations is the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO). Their plan is: 1) To raise awareness of the causes of avoidable blindness and offer viable solutions; 2) To enlist support of key stakeholders to gain the necessary funds to implement their solutions worldwide; 3) To provide support and awareness worldwide to reduce the risk of vision impairment for future generations. Their three core strategies are as follows: Disease control, implement specific programs to control and treat the main causes of vision impairment and blindness; Human resource development, contribute in the training of ophthalmologists, optometrist and other eye care personnel worldwide;  Infrastructure and appropriate technology development, help to improve the infrastructure and technology to make eye care accessible to everyone.

How Does World Sight Day Help?

The observation of World Sight Day helps to raise awareness and focus attention on vision impairment and blindness worldwide. The more people recognize the prevalence of preventable vision impairment and blindness, the closer we get to achieving the goal of IAPB and WHO. In Canada, CAO wants all Canadians to “Get Eyewise.”  Getting involved in World Sight Day is a perfect way to do this.

How Can I Help with World Sight Day?

There are a number of ways to get involved in World Sight Day. Check out the

IAPB website at: https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/  the

WHO at: http://www.who.int/blindness/world_sight_day/2017/en/ or

CAO at: https://opto.ca/world-sight-day 
and make a donation. Start a fundraiser for World Sight Day with all donations going to one of the above organizations. Or get in touch with your optometrist to see what they are doing for World Sight Day and possibly work along with them. Just be sure to do your part is helping to support Eye Care Everywhere and support VISION 2020.