80% Of The World’s Vision Impairment Is Preventable
Education and Advocacy World Sight Day is fighting to ensure that all people get adequate eye care treatment, regardless of their socio-economic status or geographic location.
For those of us not affected by an uncorrected vision problem, it can be difficult to imagine just how much of an impact it can have. It’s impossible to empathize properly with those who suffer for years, often decades, without vision solution. Among the 4.5 billion people in the world who need vision correction today, there are still 2.5 billion people who have no vision solution at all.
The consequences of poor vision are far-reaching and can affect every aspect of an individual’s life. Those living with an untreated vision problem may suffer with headaches, back and neck pain and a general tiredness as the brain tries to overcompensate for the individual’s poor vision.Untreated vision problems can affect an individual’s professional and academic life, their personal and social life and can have devastating effects on health. For example, people with untreated vision problems are seven times more likely to suffer a hip fracture due to a fall.
Major impacts in the developing world
In developing nations, where 2.2 billion people suffer without adequate vision correction, there are major safety concerns for those who cannot see well.
“I met with a man in India who told me that now that he has glasses he feels safer because he no longer steps on broken glass or snakes by accident,” says Hubert Sagnières, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Essilor.
One of the most damaging effects that untreated vision problems can have is on childhood education. One in four children experience learning difficulties due to uncorrected vision.
"As people grow older, and their eyesight diminishes, many of those who live without access to basic testing and treatment will find they can no longer work. Increasing elderly populations in many countries mean that more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment."
“Vision is not just linked to the eye but to the brain as well,” says Sagnières. “The eye is just the mechanical part; it is the brain that creates the image for you. When you’re a kid, your brain is so dynamic that it can compensate for any visual issues but it cannot do this for too long.” Eventually, untreated vision problems will begin to affect a child’s concentration and inevitably their education will suffer.
Gaining an education is imperative for all children but for children in developing nations, trying to break free from the cycle of poverty, it is an absolutely crucial step.
There are many factors that contribute to a cycle of poverty, one of which is living with an untreated visual defect.
Presbyopia is a visual condition associated with aging in which the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on close objects. As people grow older, and their eyesight diminishes, many of those who live without access to basic testing and treatment will find they can no longer work. Increasing elderly populations in many countries mean that more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment.
“All of the necessary technical solutions and products exist today and yet, 2.5 billion people still live with uncorrected vision,” says Sagnières.
Fighting untreated vision problems
“The biggest problem is a lack of awareness. Many people do not even know they need vision correction,” Sagnières continues. “And lots of people assume that if they have good vision today then they will always have good vision but this is not the case. You cannot take your vision for granted.”
Furthermore, we are discovering more information about digital devices and how they affect our eyes, and more so kids’ eyes. It is imperative that we continue to educate people and campaigns like Blue Light Exposed help achieve that goal.
World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. It is held annually on the second Thursday of October. This year, World Sight Day will fall on October 8th.
The rolling theme for this impactful global initiative is ‘Universal Eye Health’ but this year there is special consideration being paid to the most vulnerable groups of society who are living without adequate eye care.
World Sight Day and its organizers, The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, are striving to ensure all people, regardless of geographic location or income level, receive the vital treatment they require.