World sight day is an International Day of Awareness, held every second Thursday of October. World Sight Day (WSD) was initiated by the Sight First Campaign of Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) in the year 2000 about 22years ago and coordinated by International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
LCIF is a global leader in providing support to help prevent avoidable blindness and restore sight for people living in all parts of the world. LCIF has hosted several sight programs, that help support the development and improvement of eye care systems. Provision of resources for sight-restoring surgeries and treatments and distribution of medications to those at high risk for eye diseases.
It is a day set aside to raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment, an avenue to influence the Government, and Ministers of Health to participate in. Also, the designation of funds for national blindness prevention programs and educating a target audience about blindness prevention.
Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have near or distant vision impairment. In at least 1 billion or almost half of these cases, vision impairment could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed.
These 1 billion people include those with moderate or severe distance vision impairment due to unaddressed refractive error (88.4 million), cataracts (94 million), age-macular degeneration 98 million), glaucoma (7.7 million), diabetic retinopathy (3.9 million), near vision impairment caused by unaddressed presbyopia (826 million).
In terms of regional differences, the prevalence of distant vision impairment in low and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions. Rates of unaddressed near vision impairment are calculated to be greater than 80% in western, eastern, and central sub-Saharan Africa, while the comparative rates in high-income regions of North America, Australia, Western Europe, and Asia-Pacific are reported to be lower than 10%. (WHO) 2022.
Population growth and ageing are expected to increase the risk that more people acquire vision impairment.
Impact of visual impairment
Young children can experience delayed motor, language, emotional, social and cognitive development with lifelong consequences. School-age children with visual impairment can also experience lower levels of educational achievement.
Adults with vision impairment often have lower workforce participation and productivity rates and higher rates of depression.
Vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden with an estimated annual global productivity loss of about US$411 billion which outweighs the estimated cost gap of addressing the unmet need of vision impairment (US$25 billion).
Steps for Preventing Avoidable Blindness and preserving sight
- Getting regular eye care, and comprehensive exams from an eye care professional can help detect symptoms and signs of many sight-robbing diseases.
- Knowledge about family history of vision problems, many preventable vision problems run in the family.
- Eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly.
- Take all medication as prescribed
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake
- Wear eye protective goggles to protect the eye from injuries.
With Worldwide cooperation from individuals, eye care professionals, health administrators and non – governmental agencies, World Sight Day may someday soon make preventable blindness a thing of the past.