OTTAWA, Oct. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment.1,2 World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. It is led by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative.
Worldwide 65% of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older. This age group comprises only 20% of the world's population. The numbers of blind and visually impaired Canadians is projected to double between 2006 and 2031,3 in part due to the aging demographic, but also to the public's lack of awareness of eye health. Correcting refractive error and blindness prevention strategies used early on, will lead to the best outcome. Often vision loss is preventable.
"Eighty per cent of visual impairment is avoidable through treatment and prevention according to the World Health Organization," says Dr. Paul Geneau, President of The Canadian Association of Optometrists and a volunteer for many charitable overseas optometry projects. "The very first step is an eye examination for diagnosis. Most eye conditions can be treated to preserve vision and quality of life."
In a call to action for World Sight Day, the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) urges Canadians to have routine eye examinations in the month of October. Participating doctors of optometry support the World Sight Day Challenge steered by Optometry Giving Sight, and will either donate a portion of their eye examination fee or ask patients to donate a small fee until the end of the month. As little as five dollars can be enough to cover the cost of an eye exam and glasses in some countries. Optometry Giving Sight is a global initiative of IAPB.
Last year, funds collected by the World Sight Day Challenge were used to develop and implement curricula to enable the training of degree-qualified optometrists at the Mzuzu University of Optometry Academic Vision Centre in Malawi.
Let's work together to eliminate avoidable vision loss and promote universal eye health this World Sight Day.
2013 is an important year, as it will mark the launch of a new World Health Organization's Action Plan on the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment.
About the Canadian Association of Optometrists
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) is a professional association that represents over 4,900 doctors of optometry in Canada. CAO's mission is to enhance the quality, availability, and accessibility of eye, vision and related health care; to enhance and promote the independent and ethical decision making of its members; and to assist optometrists in practicing successfully in accordance with the highest standards of patient care.
|1||Pascolini D, Mariotti SP. Global estimates of visual impairment 2010. Br J Ophthalmol 2012;96(5):614-8.|
|2||WHO. Fact sheet 282: Visual impairment and blindness. 2011. Available: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/|
|3||Muzychka, Martha, ABC. Environmental Scan of Vision Health and Vision Loss in the Provinces and Territories of Canada, The National Coalition for Vision Health, 2009. Available: http://www.visionhealth.ca/news/NCVH%20Version%20September%2029F,%202009.pdf|
SOURCE Canadian Association of Optometrists