By Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor
‘Eye Care Everywhere’ is the theme for World Sight Day, Thursday, October 11. World Sight Day is an advocacy and communications call to action from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to promote universal access to vision health care. Based in London, the IAPB is the coordinating organization that leads international efforts in blindness prevention. More than 100 organizations dedicated to eye care make up their membership around the world. Members include Brien Holden Vision Institute, Lions Club International Foundation, World Council of Optometry, JCAHPO, American Academy of Ophthalmology, Prevent Blindness, Optometry Giving Sight and many more. IAPB strives to maximize the impact of the work of their members through education and comprehensive eye health system development in countries where access to eye health care is limited or nearly nonexistent.
Based on 2015 data, IAPB reports that within a world population of approximately 7.3 billion, 253 million people are blind or visually impaired. Fifty-five percent of those are women, and 89% live in low- and middle-income countries. Another 1.1 billion people have near vision impairment because they don’t have eyeglasses. Even more startling is the finding that more than 75% of cases of vision impairment are avoidable. The good news is that, largely through the efforts of IAPB members, the prevalence of vision impairment has dropped from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.38% in 2015. If that doesn’t seem like much, that 1.2% drop means about 30 million more people can see! But that’s not enough. IAPB’s current goal is a 25% reduction in avoidable vision impairment by 2019 over 2010 levels. Achieving that goal would improve vision for more than 58 million people.
How can we help? Get the word out. There’s still time to download promotional material and information about the need for universal access to vision health care for your website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube posts. The information is available at iapb.org. Start a fundraiser for the month of October. Optometry Giving Sight is holding its annual World Sight Day Challenge to raise funds for projects that provide training, establish vision centers and deliver eye care services. You can join them by hosting an event in your office, online or in your community. You can be a speaker for vision health care at a community event. IAPB will provide a PowerPoint slide presentation or video. Enter the IAPB Photo Competition for a chance at a cash prize or a camera. The competition challenges amateur and professional photographers around the world to join them in highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives, by taking part in an International Photography Competition with the theme, ‘Eye Care Everywhere.’ Send them your picture by October 11, 2018.
Get your imagination going! Not only will you be doing good for people around the world, you’ll be sending a message to your patients that your practice is a global citizen that gives back to the world community. You can learn more about the benefits and rewards of doing good in our CE Is “Doing Good” Good for You? At 2020mag.com/ce.