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World Sight Day this year, in addition to providing a platform for increased awareness and education around the critical importance of eye health, is also an opportunity to acknowledge the progress made till date towards the goal of eliminating preventable vision loss (and indeed celebrate the many who have been instrumental in driving that progress).
Despite not being entirely naive to eye health, it was only when I started in my current professional role that I became more aware of the stark global scale and impact of vision loss, and frankly I was a little taken aback. The fact that 90% of vision loss globally is preventable or treatable, is a truly depressing reminder of the scale of the task that remains.
That is why the passing of the UN resolution earlier this year, which recognized eye health as a global development issue, was nothing less than a monumental step forward in the fight to address preventable vision loss. Linking eye health to just under half of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals is critical to ensuring equity and to achieving the UN ambition of leaving no one behind.iii The acknowledgment that for example eradication of poverty and hunger, and realization of gender equality are inextricably linked to eye health, is a key and essential step towards one day meeting those goals.
As an organization Allergan, an AbbVie company is looking forward to participating with the Eye Care community and other partners, in raising awareness of the critical importance of eye health on World Sight Day. Additionally, we also have a strong internal focus leading up to the day, across the global organization there is the opportunity to create up to 50, 000 advocates for eye health (who can go on to share their newfound awareness with family and friends).
On a personal level I have been reflecting on what I can do locally to mark the occasion (I’m aware that any impact would be tiny in the grand scheme of things, however it does all add up)? I’m someone who really struggled with sight through my school years, and so I plan to engage with my children’s school and see if they would be receptive to weaving eye health somewhere into the school day on Oct 14 (the IAPB have an education pack for exactly this purpose). Much to the abject horror of my children (who would be in the audience), I’ll also offer to come in and speak on the topic of eye health if they are open to it. Again, this is hyper local and tiny, but if it leads to even one or two children who have been putting up with short sightedness having their vision checked and corrected, I’ll take that as a result.
Do you have anything planned for World Sight Day? Is there something you can do to have an impact on those around you? And of course, it doesn’t have to be Oct 14, any day is a great day to be an advocate for vision, and do your part to make that difference, no matter how small or big.