Kolkata: World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness, held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.
This year, World Sight Day will take place on October 8 with the theme: Hope in Sight.
One billion people around the world have a preventable vision impairment or one that has yet to be addressed. Reduced or absent eyesight can have major and long-lasting effects on all aspects of life, including daily personal activities, interacting with the community, school and work opportunities and the ability to access public services.
Reduced eyesight can be caused by several factors, including diseases like diabetes and trachoma, trauma to the eyes, or conditions such as refractive error, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma.
The majority of people with vision impairment are over the age of 50 years; however, vision loss can affect people of all ages.
A person’s experience of vision impairment varies depending upon many different factors. This includes for example, the availability of prevention and treatment interventions, access to vision rehabilitation (including assistive products such as glasses or white canes), and whether the person experiences problems with inaccessible buildings, transport and information.
Globally, the leading causes of vision impairment are: uncorrected refractive errors, cataract, age-related, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, corneal opacity and trachoma
There is some variation in the causes across countries. For example, the proportion of vision impairment attributable to cataract is higher in low and middle-income countries than high-income countries. In high income countries, diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are more common.
Among children, the causes of vision impairment vary considerably across countries. For example, in low-income countries congenital cataract is a leading cause, whereas in middle-income countries it is more likely to be retinopathy of prematurity.
Effective interventions are available for health promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation to address the entire range of needs associated with eye conditions and vision impairment across the life course. Some are among the most feasible and cost-effective to implement.
For example, uncorrected refractive error can be corrected with glasses while cataract surgery can restore vision. Vision rehabilitation is also effective in improving functioning for people with an irreversible vision impairment.
WHO’s work is guided by the recommendations of the WHO World report on vision (2019) and the resolution on ‘integrated, people-centred eye care, including preventable blindness and vision impairment’ was adopted at 73rd World Health Assembly in 2020.
It is expected that by shaping the global agenda on vision, the report and resolution will assist Member States and their partners in their efforts to reduce the burden of eye conditions and vision impairment and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG target 3.8 on universal health coverage.