A world in which no one is needlessly blind: Sandoz recognizes World Sight Day 2013
October 10, 2013 - Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness, according to the World Health Organization. Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment. Often a result of poor living conditions, 90% of blind people live in low-income countries.
Yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable, meaning readily treatable and/or preventable. Restorations of sight and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care, according to the WHO. While the number of people blind from infectious causes has greatly reduced in the past 20 years, an estimated 19 million children still suffer from visual impairment.
The world’s leading cause of blindness
Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness, according to the International Trachoma Initiative. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. People infected with trachoma do not go instantly blind but suffer from repeated infections in childhood which ultimately lead to complete blindness. People in the poorest living conditions are most affected by trachoma, Africa being the continent most affected by the disease.
Preventing avoidable blindness
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is a coordinating, umbrella organization established in 1975 to lead international efforts in blindness prevention. It promotes and is strongly linked to the WHO program for prevention of blindness, which is now embodied in the global initiative, 'VISION 2020': The Right to Sight. 'VISION 2020' aims to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness by the year 2020.
The IAPB’s vision is a world in which no one is needlessly blind or visually impaired and where those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential. The goal is to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by bringing together governments and non-governmental agencies to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of sustainable national eye care programs.
2013 is a critical year, as it will mark the launch of a new WHO Action Plan on the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment 2014-19. To read the draft action plan, click here.
All facts and figures cited in this article were taken from the World Health Organization’s Global Data on Visual Impairments 2010.