TORONTO, Oct. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - About 285 million people worldwide are living with vision loss. However, 80 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable - but we need the support of committed decision makers.
Today is World Sight Day, an annual day of awareness to focus international attention on vision loss. Vision 2020 would like to mark the day by calling on governments to develop comprehensive strategies to reduce avoidable vision loss across the globe.
"The evidence is clear in support of an urgently needed national vision health strategy," says John M. Rafferty, chair of Vision 2020 and President and CEO of CNIB. "Vision loss is a serious and costly issue in Canada, costing billions of dollars in direct health system costs, rehabilitation, and lost productivity."
Economically and socially, the effects of vision loss can be devastating. In Canada, only 35 per cent of working-age adults with blindness or partial sight are employed, and only 45 per cent have graduated from high school. Canadians with vision loss experience two to five times as much difficulty with daily tasks as sighted Canadians, and three times as much clinical depression.
"Vision health is of the utmost importance for the overall health of Canadians," said the Honorable Dr. Asha Seth. "The significance of prevention and awareness efforts could not be overstated."
Many common eye conditions are age-related, and due to an aging population, we expect to see the number of Canadians with blindness or partial sight double in the next 25 years.
"I have been honoured to support Vision 2020. The very achievable goal of eliminating preventable causes of blindness worldwide is one for which I will continue to advocate and pursue," said Paul Calandra, M.P. Oak Ridges-Markham.
We need to see resources committed to prevention, treatment and management efforts across the country. The development and implementation of a national vision health strategy will be key to controlling this epidemic and preventing the increase of avoidable vision loss.
About Vision 2020
VISION 2020 is a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations.
CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit cnib.ca or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642.