World Sight Day is commemorated every year on the second Thursday of the October month. It was first initiated by the Lions Club International Foundation under the Sight First Campaign in the year 2000. This day is celebrated to create awareness about vision impairment, blindness and other sight related problems. Approximately 90% of blind people are living in low-income countries; 39 million of the population is blind, around 65% of visually impaired people are more than 50 years of age. World Sight Day is an important communication and advocacy event on the eye health calendar. It focuses on bringing attention on the vision impairment and Blindness.

World Sight Day 2018

World Sight Day, 2018 will be observed on October 11, Thursday.

History of World Sight Day

This day was marked by the World Health Organization in association with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness in the year 2000 by the Lions Club International Foundation. These are the disease which receive attention on World Sight Day i.e. Trachoma, Low vision, Cataract, Glaucoma, Refractive error and Diabetic Retinopathy.

The day was created to support people in understanding the significance of providing support to the people who cannot see properly. It concentrates particularly on what all can be done to assist people with such conditions.

International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)

International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is a non-profit global association which works towards the mobilization of resources for activities that prevent blindness. The organization is dedicated to the enhancement of people who are suffering from vision problems. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) was established by Sir John Wilson on 1st of January in the year 1975.

The major objective of IAPB is to link non-government organizations, interested individuals, professional bodies and educational institutes with the national level programs in order to prevent blindness. The foundation of the program for blindness prevention of the World Health Organization was the primary biggest achievement of IAPB, after which both of them entered in a certified relationship.

VISION 2020 the “right to sight”

VISION 2020 the” right to sight” is a global non-profit corporation which is dedicated towards improving the lives of people suffering from Vision impairment. It is the global action for the destruction of avoidable blindness. VISION 2020 was founded in the year 1999 by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Presently, Global Action Plan is the most recent action plan and it rephrases the same vision as of VISION 2020: “right to sight”.

The three main Objectives of VISION 2020 are:

  • Identify and secure the crucial resources worldwide for providing an enhanced level of treatment and prevention programs.
  • Promote the development, implementation and planning of the strategies of Vision 2020 with the help of National Programs.
  • Enhance the profile of the causes and solutions of avoidable blindness among the people.

Why World Sight Day is celebrated?

World Sight Day is yearly celebrated to emphasize on the problem of global blindness. It aspires to raise public alertness around the world about the prevention and treatment of loss of vision. It is celebrated to create an impact on the governments, preferably health ministers, and also to participate in and entitled funds for blindness prevention programs. It is also marked to raise public awareness of vision impairment and blindness as major international public health issues.

Main aim of the World Sight Day is to educate the target audiences about VISION 2020 and its activities, and to generate support for VISION 2020, and blindness prevention program activities.

Theme of World Sight Day

Annual celebration of World Sight Day has its own theme. Every year, the theme is different in the observance of the day. The themes center on such topics as the need for improving the children eye health, prevention of blindness, offering services for eye health, what can be done for the situations for low visions, etc.

The theme of World Sight Day on October 12, 2017, Thursday was kept “Make Vision Count”. The theme was kept to reveal the statistics on blindness and let people become aware of where they stand.

Now coming to the statistics – In the year 2010, only 28% of the population of the world was affected by short sightedness and the number is known to increase to 34% by the year 2020 and to 50% by the year 2050. In the year 2014, around 422 million people had diabetes in comparison to the 108 million people in the year 1980. And out of three people with diabetes, one person suffers from diabetic retinopathy. Above that, one out of 10 people might develop a threatening aspect of the disease.

Below is the year wise theme of World Sight Day:

  • Theme of 2017 was: “Make Vision Count”
  • Theme of 2016 was: “Stronger Together”
  • Theme of 2015 was: “Eye care for all”
  • Theme of 2014 was: “No more Avoidable Blindness”
  • Theme of 2013 was: “Universal Eye Health”
  • Theme of 2012 and 2011 was: no theme
  • Theme of 2010 was: “Countdown to 2020”
  • Theme of 2009 was: “Gender and Eye Health”
  • Theme of 2008 was: “Fighting Vision Impairment in Later Life”
  • Theme of 2007 was: “Vision for Children”
  • Theme of 2006 was: “Low Vision”
  • Theme of 2005 was: “The Right to Sight”
  • Theme from 2004 to 2000 – no theme

How World Sight Day is celebrated

Since 2000, World Sight Day is celebrated across different countries to raise understanding and awareness of blindness and other linked vision as well as sight disorders. The day is celebrated by promoting various services for eye care support provided to people with vision problems. The day is particularly of high significance for the people who look forward to protect their eyes from harm. Various campaigns are also undertaken to support blind people on the day and making their lives easier.

Some of the examples of events held in recent years across the world are as follows:

India

World Sight Day offers an international moment to bring attention of the masses towards the various issues of blindness revolving around the country and make eye health a reality for all. The Christian Blind Mission, India marks the day in collaboration with various networks and institutions by organizing public events in major cities like Delhi, Karnataka and Bengaluru. The government of India, eye care experts and the common people make efforts to spread awareness on the eye conditions on the day. On the occasion of World Sight Day, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) also supports the following services free-of-charge to all the participants:

  • Eye care tips to deal with computer-stress and other common visual problems.
  • Prescription of medication and lens power, if required.
  • Inclusive eye screening exam, which will check the visual status of the eye and also screen for diseases such as glaucoma, cataract etc.
  • Medical appointment on any other eye-related problems.
  • Instant blood sugar test to check for diabetes and possibility of diabetic retinopathy.

Canada

World Sight Day in Canada is promoted by the Canadian association of optometrists. Every year more than 50,000 Canadians lose their sight. The Optometrists organization in Canada urges people to participate in the World Sight Day challenge. The challenge is an international level and yearly fund raising campaign that helps people with the condition of blindness. People can easily participate in the campaigns by giving annual or monthly donations or even before the prescribed World Sight Day of the year. The day provides a great way to the people of the country to make contributions and help people with vision and eye issues.

Eye camps are also organized in several parts of Canada to mark the day.

Italy

Every year, World Sight Day is observed in Italy with much enthusiasm. Around 100 cities of the country take part in numerous free initiatives in which gadgets and leaflets are distributed among the individuals. Free eye checks are also performed in many cities of Italy on the day. The events organized on the day are promoted by the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, Italy along with the regional support from the Blind Union of Italy. Events like press conference, live programs and ophthalmic prevention programs are also conducted on this day.

Australia

World Sight Day is also celebrated in Australia to spread awareness about blindness and visual impairment. More than 400,000 people of Australia are blind or have low vision. Thus, Australia acknowledges the day with greater zeal. VISION 2020 Australia joins the community for blindness and visual impairment to mark the day.

As majority of the conditions relating to the eyes have no pain or symptoms in the initial periods, the government of Australia feels that proper examinations of the eyes are very important to make sure about the treatment and early detection of the eye conditions in order to prevent vision loss and blindness. Thus, the Australian Government organizes various free camps that check the eye health of every citizen in the country on this day.

Europe

In Europe, the European Coalition for Vision (ECV) along with the other champions of equality and eye health worldwide, organize events to promote the World Sight Day. The works of the associations that contribute towards the blindness are applauded on this day. Special efforts are undertaken to publish useful materials for people who are visually impaired or blind or are not able to read the printed works. Campaigns are also undertaken to generate funds towards maintaining the eye health of the country.

Some more Suggestions for celebrating World Sight Day

India is a vast country with a very large population. It also has the largest blind population in the world i.e. 15 million. One out of three blind people in the world are from India. Out of these 15 million blind people, corneal blindness reported cases around 3.5 million, which is amongst the most popular reasons of blindness with around 30,000 cases added every year.

World Sight Day must be celebrated in India at huge levels to make its citizens aware of the consequences which come with vision impairment. Here are some suggestions to celebrate the day in India:

  • Make World Sight Day a donation day. Organize donation camps which will ultimately help people suffering from visual impairment conditions. If you are working in any organization, encourage the whole staff to make donations towards the issue.
  • Classes can be offered to children to help them learn on how to protect their sight.
  • A global fest must be held on the day to spread awareness at a gigantic level.
  • Vitamin A should be distributed to children in the various states of the country.
  • Eye screening centers should be set in the major cities of every state and encourage people to get their eyes tested for free for the World Sight Day.
  • Host an exciting contest on social media. Ask the patients to upload pictures of their preferable sights like family portrait or a beach holiday and tag it along using #WorldSightDay. You can pick three winners and reward them with a $20 gift card to a movie theater or a local cafe.

Some tips for your healthy eyes

  • Always wear sunglasses while going out to protect your eyes from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • Eat properly and try to include more and more green vegetables in your diet.
  • While performing any hazardous work, wear protective glares or safety glasses.
  • Smoking is very harmful for the eyes. It includes risk of diseases like optic nerve damage, cataract and macular degeneration. So, do not smoke.
  • While working on the computer, give rest to your eyes after every 20 minutes. Try to look away for around 20 seconds from the computer screen.
  • Go for routine check- up of your eyes.
  • Maintain adequate hygiene and do not touch your eyes or rub them before properly washing your hands.
  • Exercise on a regular basis as physical activity makes your body as well as the eyes healthy.
  • For any kind of eye infections, avoid use of the over-the-counter medications.

You can share these tips also with your friends, family, colleagues etc on World Sight Day to benefit other individuals.

Conclusion

World Sight Day is an important event that focuses on what can be done to help visually impaired people. Not even minor eye problems should be taken for granted, as you never know how that little eye problem might end up becoming a huge problem in the end. It might get really critical for the ones suffering from the diseases of the eye as eye is also an important sense organ of the human body. Awareness about visual impairment is must as four out of five people suffer from visual impairment and blindness.

Celebration of the day is very important as blindness is a very critical issue that has affected the lives of people worldwide. It is very significant to support blind people making it easier for the society to operate. The day also serves on what can be done to avoid blindness. World Sight Day is the best platform to raise awareness for the issue and generate funds for the betterment of the visually impaired people and support their lives in a better manner.