Wednesday, October 13, 2010

World Sight Day 2010 reveals successes of the last 10 years and challenges for the next 10 years in tackling avoidable blindness

...10 percent decrease in worldwide avoidable blindness and visual impairment achieved in 10 years

...Chronic eye diseases soon to take over infectious eye diseases as primary cause of avoidable blindness

...Impact to be felt in developed as well as developing countries

TORONTO, October 13, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Worldwide, 285.3 million people are visually impaired. In the past 10 years, VISION 2020: The Right to Sight and World Health Organization (WHO) have contributed to a 10 percent reduction in the number of visually impaired people worldwide. This figure is all the more impressive when considered against a growing global population and an 18 percent increase in the world's population aged over 50, the population most vulnerable to visual impairment.

"The number of blind has decreased by 5.2 million (from 45 million in 2004 to 39.8 million in the present day), representing a decline of 13 percent in the last six years," says Pat Ferguson, President & CEO of Operation Eyesight Universal an international NGO based in Canada.

This year marks the midpoint of VISION 2020's commitment to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness by 2020. In the past 10 years, thanks to VISION 2020 efforts, all 193 WHO member states are formally committed to investing in eye care, two World Health Assembly resolutions have urged WHO member states to develop and implement VISION 2020 national plans and 91 countries have drafted national eye care plans.

Operation Eyesight Universal is an international development organization dedicated to preventing and treating avoidable blindness in low income countries for almost 50 years - primarily in India and Africa. We help local medical professionals provide comprehensive, sustainable eye care and community development for the people of the world who can least afford it. Since 1963, Operation Eyesight has prevented blindness in more than 35 million people. For more information, visit

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations. VISION 2020's mission is to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness by the year 2020 by facilitating the planning, development and implementation of sustainable national eye care programmes based on the three core strategies of disease control, human resource development and infrastructure and technology, incorporating the principles of primary health care.

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