Today is World Sight Day—a global event to raise awareness for blindness and vision impairment—which happens on the second Thursday of October each year. Originally started by the Lions Club International Foundation, the event is hosted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
This year’s theme is #HopeInSight to advocate for universal eye care coverage. Obstacles, such as expensive healthcare and lack of healthcare insurance, prevent many from receiving adequate care when it comes to their eye health.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in their first-ever World Report on Vision, released in 2019, “at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed.”
Both the IAPB and Prevent Blindness, the U.S.’ oldest eye health and safety nonprofit organization, have compiled different ways for you to get involved today for World Sight Day 2020—from social media participation and a photography competition to tuning into a Congressional briefing and learning more about eye health research and advancements.
How to get involved on World Sight Day 2020
- Learn about eye health statistics in your country. The IAPB has a tool, called the Vision Atlas, to see the prevalence of vision loss on a world map by country.
- Head to social media and use the IAPB hashtag #HopeInSight when you share one of the organization’s pre-written social media posts. Prevent Blindness also encourages people to use the hashtag #BeAVisionary and share their personal vision experience. You can also share your story on the Be A Visionary message board. Don’t forget to add #WSD2020 or #WorldSightDay, too!
- Enter the photo competition IAPB and Bayer. Using the event’s theme, #HopeinSight, snap a photo of what this means to you and send it off to the IAPB. Amateur and professional photographers are both welcome to participate!
- Read up on vision legislation. “Prevent Blindness provides a free resource on its website that allows users to learn about current proposed legislation related to vision as well as provides a tool for users to find the direct contact information for their government representatives.”
- Watch the Congressional briefing (or catch the recording afterward) on “Addressing COVID-19 related health care challenges with stronger telehealth policy: The future of medicine.” Prevent Blindness is participating in the briefing, which is presented by Vision 2020 USA.
- Listen to interviews from leading eye care researchers and scientists. Empowering yourself with knowledge about eye disease, whether for yourself or a loved one, is key to further understanding and advancement on the importance of eye health and access to eye care.
- Understand how your vote matters when it comes to vision health. The Center for Vision and Population Health at Prevent Blindness (CVPH) is shedding light on the challenges people with visual disabilities face and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them. The CVPH “encourages all eligible voters to understand how they can safely participate in the upcoming November election and help ensure that sight-saving public health programs are funded at effective levels in the next Federal fiscal budget.”
As Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated, “Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated. It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses.”
Looking forward, “vision loss is projected to affect 1.7 billion people in 2050,” all while “90% of vision loss is avoidable,” according to the IAPB—further highlighting the importance of World Sight Day and shining a spotlight on the need for major improvements in eye care accessibility.
Andy is the founder and CEO of Responsum Health. A former staff person for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, he has been a healthcare policy expert in Washington, D.C., for nearly two decades. In addition to his work for Responsum, he is co-founder of one of the nation’s leading healthcare policy firms, Thorn Run Partners.