Sydney, Australia, 12 October 2017: The ‘make vision count’ theme on World Sight Day today urges everyone to preserve and protect their vision by taking action in seeking an eye examination and spreading this message to family, friends, students and colleagues.
While the thrust of ‘make vision count’ is to prompt individual action to safeguard their own vision and of others that are most vulnerable, it highlights one of the most critical activities eye care organisations should be doing – counting. We have been doing a lot of this in the last year to ensure our programs are targeted where the need is greatest and that these efforts are effective.
Earlier this year Brien Holden Vision Institute help fund and conduct a major study which provided the latest estimates, trends, and projections of global blindness and vision impairment.
Published in The Lancet Global Health journal, the study shows that while we have been successful in reducing the prevalence of avoidable vision loss, the growth in population globally and an ageing population means that the raw numbers have increased. We can take this information to modify our efforts and inform governments and funders about changing needs.
Further recent studies provide vital insights into the prevalence of vision impairment and blindness and the availability of spectacles to people that need them. In Bangladesh we conducted the first Rapid Assessment of Refractive Error (RARE) study, which unfortunately revealed a high percentage of people without the glasses they need. We use valuable information such as this to guide our program priorities and global development strategies.
There has been important analysis of health promotion efforts to increase eye health literacy in school children in Vietnam, which will help us and other eye care programs ensure children acquire the knowledge they need to prevent eye problems and to seek treatment when they need it.
Blind Walk in PNG on World Sight Day 2017 to raise public awareness around high levels of avoidable blindness
We conducted the first national Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) in Papua New Guinea (PNG), which now gives us the latest data on blindness and vision impairment and quality of eye care services there. This was a major achievement in a decentralised country with many regions not easily accessed, but it will inform efforts to advocate for greater resources for eye health to government and funders, and help ensure programs are appropriately designed and delivered effectively.
Brien Holden Vision Institute also facilitated the Global Trachoma Mapping Project in PNG, a ground-breaking collaboration that involved more than 53 organisations, including 30 ministries of health around the world – the largest infectious disease survey ever undertaken.
In the area of children's vision we have conducted a major analysis on the status of child eye health in 43 of the most under-served countries in the world. Funded by the Global Partnership for Education and managed by the World Bank, this report, due to be published soon, will provide the sector with a resource for planning and analysis that did not previously exist.
As well as endorsing the ‘make vision count’ message encouraging people to safeguard their vision and that of others, on World Sight Day this year we should acknowledge the critical research work done behind the scenes to generate the evidence which enables the eye care sector to plan, implement and deliver sustainable change.
Check your or your child's vision with this simple online test at: www.putvisionfirst.com