The world’s population is ageing and people are living longer but blindness from chronic conditions is also rising, according to WHO. About 80 percent of the world’s 45 million blind people are aged over 50 years. About 90 percent of blind people live in low-income countries, where older people, especially older women, face barriers to getting the necessary eye health care. Yet, many age-related conditions leading to blindness – such as cataract, refractive error and glaucoma – can be easily and cheaply treated or cured. Timely intervention can often delay or reduce their effects on vision.
Lions Clubs International partnered with blindness prevention organizations worldwide to commemorate the first World Sight Day on October 8, 1998. This event was later integrated into VISION 2020, a global initiative that the IAPB coordinates. This initiative is a joint program between WHO and the IAPB. It involves non-government organizations, and professional associations, as well as eye care institutions and corporations to promote the day for the following purposes:
- To raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment as major international public health issues.
- To influence governments, particularly health ministers, to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programs.
- To educate target audiences about blindness prevention, about VISION 2020 and its activities, and to generate support for VISION 2020 program activities.
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