Amanda Huang Country Manager China The Fred Hollows Foundation
HOW IMPORTANT IS EYE CARE?
According to a recent survey, the prevalence of myopia among school students in China has exceeded 50%, and that of senior high school students has exceeded 80%. Moreover, these figures are still rising year by year, and the number of myopic populations in China ranks the first in the world. According to data released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of blind and vision impaired population in China has exceeded ten millions, ranking among the top globally. In addition, the number of people suffering from other eye diseases or visual impairment due to other causes is also alarming, which seriously affect their health and quality of life.
Having a pair of healthy eyes has become an extravagant hope for many people. This problem has also drawn national and global concerns.
In 1999, the WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), among others, jointly launched the global initiative “Vision 2020: The Right to Sight” to eliminate avoidable blindness. 2020 is the closing year of the “Vision 2020” global initiative, and the Government of China has solemnly pledged to take the initiative forward with this goal.
The “White Paper on Eye Health in China” was released on National Eye Care Day in 2020, which reviews the history of eye care in China and looks forward to post-2020. By focusing on universal eye health, it is hoped that people of different age groups and groups with other systematic diseases pay more attention to their eye health. The White Paper makes clear that the next steps will be to prepare a national eye health plan for the 14th Five-Year Plan period, taking into account China’s national conditions and changes in the spectrum of blinding eye diseases.
The White Paper pointed out that the biggest challenge we face today is the eye diseases brought about by lifestyle changes. Along with the aging of the population, rapid economic and social development, and changes in people’s lifestyles, age-related eye diseases, metabolism-related eye diseases, and retinal diseases caused by high myopia are becoming the leading blinding eye diseases in China.
At its inception, the “Vision 2020” global initiative covered five leading avoidable blindness: cataract, trachoma, childhood blindness, river blindness, refractive error, and low vision. In 2013, the 66th World Health Assembly adopted the “Towards universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019“, once again calling on states and societies to pay greater attention to eye health.
Myopia, the overall prevalence among children and adolescents in China is 53.6% (2018). Myopia is one of the most prevalent chronic eye diseases in China, and once it occurs, it is irreversible. Particularly, children who develop myopia at a young age are more likely to suffer from high myopia, which can lead to irreversible vision impairment and even blindness. Another example, there are about 110 million people with diabetes in China, and about 27 million Diabetic Retinopathy patients, approximately 70% of whom do not receive standardized eye check and treatment. The risk of blindness can be reduced by 94.4%, however, if regular fundus examinations are received at the early stage of the disease.
So, how can we avoid the above problems and take better care of our eyes to ensure eye health?
The “Vision 2020” Online Eye Care Marathon will be launched on December 10, 2020. The event is hosted by China National Technical Steering Group for the Prevention of Blindness and the ophthalmology branches of three associations, namely, the Chinese Preventive Medical Association, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, and Beijing Medical Association. The Fred Hollows Foundation is responsible for all organizations of the event, with special thanks to the support of the IAPB.
This is an online marathon that supports mileage accumulation and will last for 21 days. Citizens can use a WeChat-based Applet to participate in the event and accumulate mileage by signing in, learning messages about eye health and answering two questions on a daily basis. After completing the required mileage, they will be awarded with the event prizes, including e-certificate, medals, and opportunities to attend international and national eye care events.
The event is designed to raise public awareness on eye care, as well as sharing key messages from the White Paper regarding eye health care in China. The sponsors indicate that the 21-day online event is expected to help everyone establish new eye care practice and habit.
To participate in the event, please visit the official WeChat account of The Fred Hollows Foundation or the Event Applet as below.
Disclaimer:The views, ideas, technologies or policy positions in these blog posts belong to the authors and do not necessarily describe IAPB’s position or views on these matters.