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World Sight Day: Toward a World Full of Light

Sight is a priceless asset. World Sight Day raises awareness about preventable blindness and visual problems. Occurring on the second Thursday of October, under the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, this awareness encourages governments, healthcare agencies, and individuals to take action to address this issue.

Moreover, being the highest-profile event on the eye health calendar, this global initiative also emphasizes the importance of regular eye exams, accessible eye care, and maintaining good eye health to prevent avoidable blindness. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: October - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of World Sight Day

eyeglass side view
Photo by Redowan Dhrubo on Unsplash

The Lions Club International Foundation's SightFirst campaign began in 1990 to raise awareness about blindness and eyesight problems. It sparked a global conversation about these issues and has paved the way for further progress. 

Various programs have begun to address critical issues and provide support to those affected by these issues. The WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) joined forces to bring attention to blindness and eye problems as crucial public health matters. 

In 2013, the Global Action Plan was approved to reduce visual impairments by 25% by 2019. 

Then, in 2015, the theme of "Universal Eye Health" was introduced, leading to a four-year global action plan against preventable blindness and visual impairment. 

The World Sight Day 2023 theme is Love Your Eyes at Work this year. It focuses on our vision of health at workplaces, calling on business leaders to protect employees' eyes.

The Cause and Its Challenges

close up view of an eye
Photo by Marc Schulte on Unsplash

About 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from visual impairments, including blindness and low vision. Moreover, around 1.1 billion people, or an eighth of the world’s population, have preventable or untreated visual disorders1.

Many people also experience limited access to quality eye care, particularly in rural areas of low and middle-income countries, where 90% of avoidable vision impairment occurs.

Unfortunately, access to eye care services is limited in many developing regions due to the lack of trained professionals and high treatment costs. Although the number of ophthalmologists worldwide is increasing, there has been an unequal distribution2

Efforts and Initiatives

The WHO and the IAPB joined forces to launch 'VISION 2020: The Right to Sight' in 1999. This long-term initiative emphasizes the importance of regular eye check-ups and early detection of eye diseases.

Moreover, the Lions Club International Foundation has launched the 'SightFirst' program, which has funded over 340 sight-related projects in over 90 countries since 1990.

These efforts represent necessary steps toward eliminating preventable blindness and improving access to eye care services.

How to Get Involved and Support World Sight Day

examining a patient's eye
Photo by CDC on Unsplash
  • Educate yourself on the various types of vision impairment and start a conversation with friends, family, or at a community center.
  • Post World Sight Day on social media, share a story or article, or convey the importance of regular eye check-ups. Using hashtags such as #WorldSightDay, #LoveYourEyes, and #VisionFirst can amplify the message.
  • Join fundraisers and awareness events to generate support for blindness prevention. 
  • Lobby local health ministers and influence governments to fund vision health care and eye disorder prevention programs.
  • Visit your local eye clinic and get your vision checked.

Conclusion

World Sight Day is a global event that reminds us that vision impairment and blindness are systemic health issues. It stresses the responsibility of individuals and communities to take action towards mitigating preventable sight-related health issues. Through collective effort, we can shape a world with light for all.

World Sight Day FAQs

1. What is World Sight Day?

It is an annual event observed globally to raise public awareness of the importance of vision care, raise funds for eye health initiatives, and advocate for equal access to eye care services.

2. When is World Sight Day celebrated?

On the second Thursday of October every year.

3. What are the common vision impairments?

The most prevalent vision impairments typically entail refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, and age-linked conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. Glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are prevailing conditions that could severely impact vision or potentially cause total vision loss.

4. How can I support and celebrate World Sight Day?

Post on social media, support eye health organizations or receive eye care services. You can join a photo competition for amateur and professional photographers or pledge your sight test on that day.

1

World Health Organization (2019). World report on vision. www.who.int

2

World Health Organization (2019). World report on vision. www.who.int

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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