World Sight Day – Advocating for a bright future.
World Sight Day is the day on which the vision community at large highlights the key issues they are facing: from awareness of the different types of vision loss, prevention of blindness as well as access to care and services. This day is the most important one in the eye health calendar.
In 2017 Retina International and its stakeholders are calling on governments to make Eye Disease a Public Health Priority. Patients are frustrated by the lack of awareness on the importance of timely diagnosis, be it a genetic diagnosis as in the case of Inherited Retinal Disease or a clinical diagnosis as with Age-related Macular Degeneration. Without this all important diagnosis patients face unacceptable delays in accessing crucial services, care and therapeutic intervention.
Poor eye health is underappreciated, is common worldwide and a major socio-economic burden. Eye health is often misunderstood and not prioritised within healthcare systems. It can be perceived as a condition people are born with that will never improve, through accident or a result of an age related health issue. The sighted community are often under the impression that an individual can see or you cannot see, this is not the case. As there are different types of vision there are different types of blindness. It is estimated that there are over 36.0 million of blind and over 215 million of severely to moderately visually impaired people alive (Bourne et al, Lancet 2017). The prevalence of these conditions is steadily increasing with age and population growth.
In the age of innovation there is much to be hopeful for as research is laying the groundwork for novel cell and gene therapies. Visual aids and artificial retinal prosthesis are playing an important part of reality in how those affected by sight loss can better view the world while new and established therapies are being developed, however, accesses to these devices and therapies are out of reach without a proper diagnosis.
Adequate management relies on a clear diagnosis for those affected by IRDs, REDs and Age Related Eye Disease. In many cases such as those affected by conditions like AMD, early diagnosis can lead to preservation of vision.
On World Sight Day 2017, Retina International and its members are calling on health policy makers to improve access to genetic diagnosis in ocular disease.
Here are some interesting statistics about blindness and vision loss (Bourne et al Lancet 2017):
- 89% of vision impaired people live in low and middle income countries
- 55% of moderate or severely vision impaired people are women
- More than 75% of all blindness and moderate or severe vision impairment can be avoided
- There are 36 million people who are blind
- There has been no correlation between sex and the likelihood of having AMD
- It is estimated that there are over 36.0 million of blind and over 215 million of severely to moderately visually impaired people alive
- The prevalence of blindness and vision impairment combined has dropped from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.37% in 2015.
On World Sight Day 2017 Retina International and the community it serves are calling on governments to prioritise eye disease as a public health priority. Patients need access to an appropriate diagnosis to ensure they have access to a proper care plan and intervention. In some cases this may be a genetic test in others it may be a test carried out by an optometrist or eye doctor. These services must be accessible to all to ensure no one is affected by preventable sight loss and blindness.
We want you to join with us. Tell us what your eye health priorities are – it would be great to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org