Advocating eye health

World Sight Day makes the urgent case for tackling sight loss

blog balloons

A long ramble in the countryside; an extended lunch with that favourite pale ale; a big night out with old friends. We all have our preferred ways to mark a celebration. But the pandemic once again got me scratching my head with confusion, this time as I attempted to plan a milestone birthday that adhered to the rules and regulations.

The answer, I came to conclude, was to abandon my desire to replicate the way we ‘always do it,’ but to find a new way to celebrate that still had a nod to our family traditions.

Today marks an annual milestone for the optics community: World Sight Day. The goal, as outlined on the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) website, is bold, demanding “a political commitment to take action to make eye care an integral part of universal health coverage and to implement integrated people-centred eye care.”

The human and financial cost of a collective failure to act is huge. In the UK alone, Fight for Sight estimates there are currently over two million people living with sight loss, more than half of which is avoidable.

In a report released last month, the charity concluded this number will jump to 3.5 million by 2050.

The Time to Focus report also revealed that sight loss costs the UK economy £25.2 billion a year, and is projected to rise to £33.5 billion a year by 2050.

As striking and concerning as this data is, finding a way for these supporting messages on World Sight Day to get ‘cut through,’ as the marketeers would put it, is harder than it has ever been, and pushing sight loss up the political agenda seems like a Herculean task as COVID-19 understandably sucks the oxygen out of debate.

The IAPB remain upbeat, adopting the hashtag HopeInSight for this year’s event.

And this positivity in adversity chimes with the view from Sarah Campion, Fight for Sight’s director of engagement, who told OT : “I think it's such an exciting time in eye research. There's so much research that is already making breakthroughs or is on the verge of making new ones, whether it's in gene therapies, stem cells, or emerging technologies.”

Did your practice mark World Sight Day? Get in touch with your story, [email protected]

How seriously do you think the government views the importance of tackling avoidable sight loss in the UK?

  • Very seriously

    0 0%
  • No interest

    1 4%
  • Minimal interest

    21 91%
  • Seriously

    1 4%