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World Sight Day 2011, October 13

logo_world_sight_day_2011World Sight Day is an international day aiming at raising global attention on blindness and bringing professional and political commitment to blindness prevention.

This day is observed around the world by any organization involved in eye health. It is also the main event of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness “Vision 2020: The Right to Sight” in preventing visual impairment and restoring sight.

In 2010, WHO released new global estimates on visual impairment based on 50 national and sub-national studies from 38 countries. WHO estimates that the number of people with visual impairment in 2010 is 285 million (65% of whom are aged over 50 years). Of these, 246 million have low vision (63% over 50) and 39 million are blind (82% over 50). These most up-to-date data reveal that the top three causes of visual impairment are uncorrected refractive errors, cataract and glaucoma. The top three causes of blindness are cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Eighty per cent of all visual impairment can be prevented, treated or cured. If avoidable blindness is addressed, blindness due to cataract, refractive errors, trachoma, vitamin A deficiency and onchocerciasis, and some due to diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, could be eliminated. The new WHO statistics indicate downward trends in blindness worldwide and shift from infectious to chronic conditions leading to visual impairment.

At the same time, however, increasing elderly populations in many countries mean that more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment. The aging and growth of the global population over the next 20 years will lead to a large increase in the number of blind persons. Under these projections, WHO estimates that without major intervention, the number of people who are blind will double by 2020. This increase could be avoided by:

i) better implementation of the existing resources at those causes of blindness for which proven interventions are available and

ii) developing new sight-saving strategies.

Created Tuesday, 11 October 2011 Last modified Tuesday, 11 October 2011

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