October 11 is World Sight Day 2018

World Sight Day 2018

How much do you know about eye health around the world? What about the level of access children around the world have to good eye care? Do you know the rate of preventable blindness, or the number of people who need glasses but lack easy access to them? For most people, the answer to these questions will be “no”; — yet once you know that 75% of all vision impairments worldwide are preventable with proper care, it becomes clear that something must be done.

This is the power of awareness. Understanding the need for active efforts to remedy global health problems often starts by developing awareness of the issue, its prevalence, and what we can do in response. That is the core idea behind World Sight Day, an annual day of awareness observed each October on the second Thursday of the month. First held in 2000, this year’s day of action and awareness falls on October 11.

This year’s theme: Eye Care Everywhere

The organizers of World Sight Day, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, typically designate a theme which becomes the focus of the annual event. This year, #EyeCareEverywhere is the theme, with a goal of drawing attention to the need for everyone around the world to have access to high quality ocular healthcare. According to the IAPB, more than 1 billion people worldwide need glasses, but do not have access to them. A similarly staggering number of people, in excess of 200 million, face some degree of impairment that limits their ability to see things at a distance. For children, this can have real impacts on their ability to learn and engage with the world around them.

At the same time, World Sight Day also hopes to draw further attention to care for those with irreversible blindness. Developing a more accessible world is everyone’s responsibility, such as expanding the number of places with accessible modes of interactions for blind individuals, or supporting the training and placement of guide dogs. Eye Care Everywhere, therefore, is an inclusive effort to raise awareness of the global need to improve in these areas.
What you can do to get involved What does that mean for you? For optometrists and health professionals working in eye care, it can be an opportunity to increase educational outreach efforts, or even to offer free screenings as a way to
allow individuals to take the first step. That does not mean that the average individual can’t take part, though. A photography competition for World Sight Day is ongoing, with participants encouraged to submit eye care pictures that highlight the positive impacts optometry can have on an individual’s life. Users are encouraged to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #EyeCareEverywhere. With regards to social media, it is an excellent platform for everyone to use for spreading awareness themselves. The IAPB has many statistics available that can be “eye-opening” for the people on your friends list. Make a post about how everyone should be sure to have a regular check-up with his or her optometrist, or share a personal story about how professional eye care helped you. By working together, we can promote better health, while reducing the global impacts of vision impairment and preserving the right to sight for all.

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