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The WSD Photo competition: COVID-19 and eye care

Published: 22.10.2020
Tejah Balantrapu Communications Manager
International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness

Another edition of the IAPB-Bayer World Sight Day photo competition has come to a spectacular end. We received over 1900 photo submissions (with nearly 500 photos in the COVID-19 category) this year – a record. A good 1600 photos have been accepted and are available on the IAPB Flickr channel. We announced the winners on 15 October 2020 (World White Cane Day).


The Photo competition has always been a portal to eye care service delivery and its impact, especially in places where health care is hard to find. This year, with the pandemic stopping most eye care work in its tracks, professionals have had to innovate, protect and care for themselves, their teams, and their patients under extraordinary stress. Many of the COVID submissions showcase such efforts from around the world.

The photo competition’s theme this year (as also World Sight Day’s) is ‘Hope in Sight’ and many of the submissions underscore this idea. Even submissions showcasing the sightless emphasise a sense of hope and control over our lives. This idea pins itself to the overall spirit of cautious optimism around the new normal. Eye care work offers hope, and our collective spirit offers solutions to what is possible in the future.

As IAPB’s Chief Executive, Peter Holland noted, “These are extraordinary times for the world, and for the sector. These photos showcase what it takes to deliver eye care, especially when a pandemic is raging and there is no end in sight. They give us hope and showcase the power of human action”.

The WSD photo competition, for six years running, has been made possible by support from Bayer. They have also directed a lot of social attention online to the competition entries.

We are proud to once again work with IAPB and celebrate the new record of submitted pictures to the World Sight Day Photo Competition! The pictures speak for themselves and showcase how important this initiative is for raising awareness around preventable blindness, showcasing achievements from across the world, as well as providing ‘Hope in Sight’ for the future. Bayer would like to congratulate the winners and thank all who took the time to submit entries.” said Jan Voss, VP & Head of Ophthalmology at Bayer.

Here are a couple of examples of the stories behind a couple of our winning entries

Hope in Sight

<b>Photo Title:</b> Hope <b>Submitted by:</b> Michael Schoenfeld <b>Category:</b> Professional <b>Country: </b> Tanzania <b>Organisation: </b> Eye Corps <b>COVID-19 Photo: </b>No <b>Photo Caption: </b>54-year-old female diabetic blind for 4 years with white cataracts now 20/20 ou . ---- Photo uploaded from the #HopeInSight Photo Competition on <a href="" rel="noreferrer nofollow"></a> held for World Sight Day 2020; Photo by Michael Schoenfeld; EyeCorps


A 54-year-old with diabetes and blind with cataract was operated on by personnel from Eyecorps in Tanzania. She regained her vision – the daily miracle of cataract surgery reminds us of the many millions around the world who can’t access such surgical services. Michael Schoenfeld, the photographer was touched by this miracle too: “I have experienced some of my greatest artistic moments working with EyeCorps in Tanzania, Africa during the past three years; Susan Macdonald [at EyeCorps] has assembled a group of medical angels that have selflessly given of themselves. This work fills my heart, and I look forward to doing more with them. Thank you again for this wonderful honour”.

Light projection assessment before cataract surgery; Patrick BUDENGERI

Light projection assessment before cataract surgery

The actual process of eye care delivery involves close contact between the practitioner and the patient. In these new circumstances, there are no easy answers – but there is basic safety, hope and commitment. Under the COVID-19 category, Dr Patrick Budengeri sent in his winning entry from Burundi. Patrick says, “I am very honoured and happy for my win. I dedicate my win to all the patients suffering from avoidable blindness. There is hope in sight.”

We now have a repository of more than 6000 photos from amateur and professional photographers around the world showcasing the myriad modes of eye health delivery. All of the images are available to use under a Create Commons License with due credit to the photographer and affiliate organisation.

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.