On World Sight Day, remember to love your eyes!

An elderly woman wearing an eye patch and clasping her hands together

Dr. Danny Haddad, Inclusive Eye Health Director of CBM Global, reflects on this year’s theme for World Sight Day. 

Love your eyes!

This year’s theme for World Sight Day is Love Your Eyes! At first, that seems like an obvious statement, who doesn’t love their eyes? In a 2016 published study, respondents ranked losing vision as equal to or worse than losing hearing, memory, speech, or a limb. Unfortunately, for over a billion people in the world, it isn’t as obvious or as natural as we might think, as they suffer from vision loss and have no access to care. But even for us, who have easy access to eye care, how well do we care?

For this World Sight Day, the goal is to have 1 million people pledge to have their eyes tested. And it is important that we do. Nearly everyone on the planet will experience an eye health issue in their lifetime. With the continuing global population growth and aging of our population, we will be seeing an increase in the number of people living with vision loss from 1.1 billion to 1.7 billion in 2050.

Especially in our current environment, with our lifestyle changes, like a healthy diet, now even less exercise while working from home, more dependence on digital devices, increased screen time for our children, etc. we become more at risk for vision loss ourselves. Therefore, following the 4 P’s: Prevent, Protect, Preserve and Prioritise, so pledge here yourself to test or take care of your eyes, as everyone counts.

For CBM Global Disability Inclusion, the statement ‘everyone counts’ is at the core of what we do. Our Inclusive Eye Health programs seek to ensure we create access to eye health for everyone, removing the physical and figurative barriers that are in place. We therefore also focus on a continuum of care, ensuring that those that have irreparable vision loss, get the support that they need. As we also know that persons living with vision loss, or their family members, suffer from depression and are therefore developing links with our mental health programs.

This World Sight Day is therefore a good moment to love our eyes, but also to realise we need to make an effort there ourselves and not forget that this is not as natural as we might think it is.

Sources:

Public Attitudes About Eye and Vision Health. Scott, AW; Bressler, NM; et. al.

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(10):1111-1118.

GBD 2019 Blindness and Vision Impairment Collaborators; Vision Loss Expert Group of the Global Burden of Disease Study. Trends in prevalence of blindness and distance and near vision impairment over 30 years: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet Glob Health. 2021 Feb;9(2):e130-e143.

Main Image: Jasrani holding her hands in prayer, with an eye patch over her right eye, after cataract surgery at Biratnagar Eye Hospital in Nepal. ©CBM

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