Barbados will join the rest of the world in observing World Sight Day, tomorrow Thursday, October 12.
It is a global event coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), to draw attention to blindness and vision impairment. The theme this year is Make Vision Count.
On World Sight Day, the IAPB will be releasing the latest data on the prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment and will have projections up to the year 2020.
Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness, yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable with treatment and/or prevention. Even with advancements in technology and medicine, there are far too many people globally who are living with blindness or impaired vision.
It is known that worldwide, 90% of visual impairment results from chronic eye diseases. In Barbados, Cataract, Glaucoma and Diabetic Eye Disease (Diabetic Retinopathy) remain the major causes of blindness.
World Sight Day is a time to engage with the world at large, and persons are encouraged to look around in their family, especially for those who are vulnerable -school children, the elderly, those who seldom get an eye exam and those with diabetes. Persons who have eye diseases often feel indifference from their families and communities.
The Ministry of Health continues to provide eye care services to the Barbadian public through the School Eye Care Clinic at the Winston Scott Polyclinic and the Ophthalmology Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The School Eye Care Clinic manages children who have low vision challenges due to the need for spectacles, or other conditions and the Ophthalmology Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital manages patients with conditions such as cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy requiring specialist care.
Visual impairment imposes significant social and economic burdens worldwide. Persons who are visually impaired are more likely to be unemployed, involved in accidents and falls, and suffer from depression and anxiety disorders.
As part of the call to action to address eye health, the Ministry of Health and its partners take this opportunity on World Sight Day to remind the public about the importance of regular eye exams, and that 80% of blindness and loss of vision can be prevented.