2019 World Sight Day

World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and Vision Impairment, and it is held on the second Thursday in October each year. It was established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2000.

World Sight Day is the main advocacy event for raising awareness about blindness and vision impairment for VISION 2020 : The Right to Sight, a global initiative created by WHO  and the international agency for the prevention of Blindness (IAPB) .

This year’s World Sight Day will be on Thursday 10 October 2019 , and the theme this year is Vision First!

Blindness is the state or condition of being unable to see because of an injury or disease to the eye while Visual impairment is a decrease in the ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means such as glasses.

Today, about 36 million people across the globe are blind. Four out of five cases of blindness are avoidable. That means 80 percent of people who are blind should not have lost their sight.

Another 217 million people have moderate to severe vision impairment (MSVI). This means they are not completely blind, but have limited vision.

The major causes of preventable blindness include:

  • Uncorrected refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism
  • Unoperated cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye’s lens that requires surgery to correct
  • Glaucoma, a disease that destroys the optic nerve carrying visual information from the eye to the brain.

In Nigeria, the most common cause of avoidable blindness is cataract. According to the Nigerian National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey, cataract accounts for 43% of all causes of avoidable blindness in Nigeria. Cataract has myriad causes but the most commons are old age, trauma, diabetes, local eye disease as well as irradiation. Although, cataract can occur at any age but the age-related cataract is the most common and most often has a good visual potential after surgical removal. The symptoms of cataract include hazy vision which may be worst in a dim or lit environment, glare and presence of whitish spot inside dark part of the eye ball. The good story about age-related cataract is the fact that the condition is curable by surgery and blindness from it can therefore be prevented and avoided.

Uncorrected refractive errors account for 43 percent of global cases of preventable blindness, unoperated cataracts cause about 33 percent of avoidable blindness cases, and glaucoma is responsible for 2 percent of needless blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is becoming a major cause of preventable blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that affects people with diabetes, a condition characterized by fluctuating blood sugar levels. At high levels, the sugar in blood can damage the blood vessels in the light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of the eye. About 285 million people worldwide have diabetes; about one-third of these individuals have diabetic retinopathy and another third show signs of the vision-robbing disease.

Approximately 90 percent of visually impaired people live in impoverished nations like Nigeria. About 65 percent of people with visual impairments are aged 50 and older.Approximately 19 million children are visually impaired; 12 million of these cases of childhood visual impairment are the result of easily diagnosable and treatable refractive errors. About 1.4 million children have irreversible, lifelong vision loss.

As part of activities to mark this day , St Marys Children and Community Hospital Umuowa Orlu will be offering FREE EYE CARE SCREENINGS from 7-11 OCTOBER 2019 at the newly opened world class EYE CENTRE opened in the hospital.  This will help ensure early , accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment and prevention of avoidable blindness and preserving Sight.  At St Marys Eye Centre, we provide the best eye care services including highly specialized diagnostics, treatment and surgeries.

Vision First.

Leave No One Behind.

By Dr Ahunanya Judith. (OD)

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