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Stronger Together for Universal Eye Health: WSD 2016

Optometrists assistant performing a eye checkup with the help of vision testing chart
© CBM India
An optometrist assistant conducting an eye checkup with the help of a vision testing chart at a CBM supported project in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu

The call to action for WSD 2016 focuses on partnerships and friendships, celebrating the spirit of ‘Stronger Together’ for Universal Eye Health.

The World Sight Day (WSD) is observed every year on the second Thursday of October to bring a global focus on eye health, prevention of blindness and vision impairment.

The call to action for this year’s WSD, which falls on October 13th, is “Stronger Together”, highlighting partnerships and friendships that are critical to ending preventable blindness. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has urged for a focus on all the stakeholders who are important for successful delivery of eye care.

“Think of all the groups of people who engage with eye care: ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, donors, patients, carers, and the wider family. Clearly, our successes are made possible by the fact that we work together, and so, what can be a better theme for our continued success? The more groups we bring together – the diabetic community, the irreparably blind, vulnerable groups, including those with other disabilities – the stronger we become,” says the statement issued by IAPB to mark the WSD 2016.

“The day provides an opportunity to raise public awareness on blindness and vision impairment and engage different stakeholders to act for the prevention of avoidable blindness, and for the rehabilitation of those with irreversible visual impairment,” said Dr. Sara Varughese, Managing Trustee, CBM India Trust.

“Let us work together to ensure that every person has access to eye care they need, whether it is for treatment or visual rehabilitation,” Dr. Sara Varughese added. This syncs well with the theme of Universal Eye Health this year. The theme is in keeping with the WHO’s Action Plan 2014-2019 and will be used for the next couple of years as a rolling theme.

CBM India has been working across the country with some of the most socially and economically marginalized people to provide access to eye care, treatment, and prevention.
CBM India works on providing quality diagnostic and surgical equipment to hospitals and institutions for restorations of sight, and blindness prevention through cost-effective interventions.

India shares the largest burden of preventable blindness in the world and the Indian government data shows that 75 percent cases of blindness in the country are preventable. Our experience of working on the issue of blindness and vision impairments has shown us that the challenges go much deeper than the numbers capture. Loss of vision reduces mobility – creating barriers to accessing basic rights of education and employment – and creates a need for long-term care which most families and caregivers are not equipped to deal with.

The VISION 2020: The Right to Sight – India is celebrating World Sight Day 2016 with two events. This includes a seminar on the theme of WSD – Stronger Together. The seminar will highlight the importance of partnership among different stakeholders for making their collective mission successful. The second event will be a walk: Walk for Vision.

Key Statements

  • 4 out of 5 blind people are needlessly impaired; let’s work together for the elimination of avoidable blindness.
  • About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Preventable causes are as high as 80% of the total global visual impairment burden.
  • 90% of the world's visually impaired people live in developing countries.
  • Invest in eye health – increase budget allocations to address the need.
  • Address the human resources crisis in eye health – invest in training, innovation, and research
  • Integrate eye health at every level of the health system.
  • Withdraw user fees to the poorest.
Source: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
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