An annual observance held every 2nd Thursday of October, World Sight Day aims to draw public awareness to various issues surrounding blindness and visual impairment.
The first World Sight Day was held on October 8, 1998, through the initiative of Lionsw Club International. In 2000, it was integrated into the global program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) called “Vision 2a020: The Right to Sight.”
Statistics from World Health Organization show that 36 million people all over the world are blind and 217 million people have moderate to severe vision impairment; 81% of them are 50 years old and above.
The leading cause of vision loss is a cataract problem, followed by glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) estimated in 2017 that 332,150 people are bilaterally blind while around 2,179,733 have low vision.
Some visual impairments are due to genetics or age and are unpreventable. However, 80% of visual impairment can be avoided or cured. Regular eye examination is very important to prevent the eyes from becoming damaged by undiagnosed conditions. Preventive measures include: wearing of sunglasses while out in the sun to block ultraviolet radiation, 2) wearing protective eyewear when engaging in sports or other risky activity to reduce the risk of eye injury, 3) maintaining proper weight and reducing blood pressure, 4) getting enough sleep; 5) exercising daily, and 6) avoiding smoking. Proper diet is also important in taking good care of the eyes. To reduce the risk of developing cataracts, it is advisable to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates, good quality fats (avocado, olice oil, omega oils), and either plant sourced proteins or lean animal sourced proteins.
With the theme “Eye Care Everywhere,” World Sight Day urges people to share information about eye health care and vision are. Events lined up for the celebration around the world include seminars, photography competitions, donation drive, rallies, and online events.
Let us support efforts in the promotion of eye care and the prevention of visual impairment. This annual worldwide events should motivate our local and national government officials to strengthen eye care programs.