Even though every single person is likely to need access to eye care services at some point in their lifetime, people take their eyesight for granted. There is a lack of awareness and demand from the public, which in turn results in a lack of financial and political will.
We need individuals and communities around the world to make their vision a priority, understand the link with their wider health, grasp the social and economic impacts of inaction and take the steps needed.
Awareness and action should start from childhood where individuals have all the information they need to protect their own eyes and, crucially, take the steps needed to look after their vision – from reducing screen time through to seeking help for any ailments or discomfort.
This level of awareness and demand should flow through everyone’s education pathway and employment environments. Individuals should continue to demand protective measures, equipment and safe ways of working that prevent sight loss or harm to their eyes.
We need everyone to know how and where to get help with treatment of any eye issues or sight loss, demanding access to affordable services and glasses if needed, and complaining and campaigning if that does not happen.
Creating a groundswell and instigating behavioural change is a huge and long-term challenge.
It will require us linking with many other sectors to communicate the importance of eye health within wider health and lifestyle messaging.
We will also need to employ and deploy new and varied ways of communicating to succeed, from grassroots empowerment to mass global social media campaigns.