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UN General Assembly adopts Vision for Everyone resolution

The resolution aims to address preventable sight loss and calls for new targets on eye care to be included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Female eye close-up
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has adopted its first resolution on vision, which aims to tackle avoidable sight loss and incorporate eye health within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Resolution A/75/L.108 – Vision for Everyone; accelerating action to achieve the sustainable development goals – was unanimously passed by the 193 countries of the United Nations. 

The United Nations Friends of Vision Group, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), said the resolution sets targets for ‘vision for everyone’ by 2030, calling for countries to ensure full access to eye care services, and make eye health “integral” to their nation’s commitments to achieving the development goals.

The resolution is calling for the UN to incorporate eye care into its work, including through UNICEF and UN-Women, and for new targets on eye care to be included in the UN’s SDGs at its next review.

Sharing the organisation’s ‘delight’ at the unanimous passing of the resolution, IAPB CEO, Peter Holland, highlighted: “The eye health sector has believed for a long time that quality eye care is critical to the world achieving the SDGs.”

Preventable sight loss is a global challenge that needs a global solution – and that is what we have agreed today

H.E Ambassador Rabab Fatima, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision group

Meanwhile, international financial institutions and donors are asked to provide targeted finances – particularly to support developing countries to tackle preventable sight loss.

The resolution notes that at least two billion people are living with vision impairment or blindness, and 1.1 billion people have vision impairment that could have been prevented, or is yet to be addressed, adding, “global eye care needs are projected to increase substantially, with half the global population expected to be living with a vision impairment by 2050.”

The UN Friends of Vision and IAPB suggested the plan could mean that, by 2030, the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss around the world will have access to support and treatment.

Welcoming the news “for all those on our planet living without access to eye health,” Caroline Casey, president of the IAPB, pointed out: “This will only make a difference to some of the poorest on our planet if governments act now.”

Reflecting on the agreement of the Member States of the United Nations to the global plan for change, Casey added: “Those of us working in eye health will work with every sinew in our bodies to ensure that this is delivered and to ensure that 2030 is in sight for all.”

Calling the adoption of the resolution “a watershed moment in global efforts for vision care,” H.E Ambassador Rabab Fatima, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision group, said: “Preventable sight loss is a global challenge that needs a global solution – and that is what we have agreed today.”

Reacting to the resolution

A number of organisations and companies across the eye care profession have responded to the resolution, and the recognition of eye health as a key developmental issue.

International charity, Sightsavers, supported the pursuit for a resolution, providing technical guidance and expertise as part of, and in collaboration with, the secretariat of the UN Friends of Vision Group. Sightsavers health policy adviser, Fiona Lawless, described the agreement as a “fantastic step forward towards eye care for the world’s 1.1 billion people with preventable sight loss by 2030.”

Suggesting that conversations had been lacking “within global development and wider health,” Lawless added: “Preventable sight loss is a global challenge that needs a global solution, and an ageing society plus population growth means vision impairment numbers are growing.”

“The resolution makes it clear that eye health is a priority development and human rights issue. It recognises the inequalities in access to eye care services, expectations for change, and how intertwined eye health is in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Lawless continued. “2030 is now in sight and this sets out the roadmap to get there.”

Ophthalmology company, Santen, has announced the actions it will be taking to implement the resolution, as part of its ongoing strategic partnership with the IAPB. The initiatives will include partnership with national governments and supranational stakeholders to establish a monitoring system and encouraging the inclusion of eye health in voluntary national reporting on the SDGs.

Santen will also work on co-ordinating an advocacy and public affairs strategy to lobby for the inclusion of two eye health targets in the next review of the SDGs in 2025.

Shigeo Taniuchi, president and CEO of Santen highlighted the evidence supporting eye health as a global development issue, noting: “About 90% of preventable vision loss occurs in low-and-middle income countries, of which 55% affects women and girls.

“Supporting the implementation of this resolution is a crucial step towards facilitating access to eye care services and reducing the loss of social and economic opportunities for people around the world due to eye conditions,” Taniuchi said.

Daniel McBride, president of CooperVision, which became a global patron for the IAPB last year, described the news as “a landmark development…clearly defining the need for treating vision impairments and preventing future sight loss worldwide,” adding: “It’s up to all of us to help fulfil what the agreement sets out—industry, practitioners, institutions and governments alike.”