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October 9th World Sight Day 2014

World Sight Day’s 2014 theme is "No More Avoidable Blindness"
 
It is a sad fact that most of the people who go blind did not have to become blind. Most of the diseases that rob people of their sight, up to 80%, can be either prevented or avoided with access to proper healthcare and nutrition. Surgical intervention may also restore the sight of those who go blind due to cataracts. We want to reduce this 80% down to zero.
 
In developing countries such as Bangladesh, cataracts are very common among elderly persons; however, payment is required to have their eyesight restored. Many people cannot afford to pay for medical expenses so they remain blind. This is a real shame as it costs governments less to fix the problem than to support someone once they have become blind. This also exacerbates the cycle of poverty leading to disability, and disability resulting in poverty.
 
Trachoma is a disease that left untreated, leads to blindness. It is also highly contagious and can spread quickly through a village. Fortunately, if caught on time, trachoma is easily cured and with proper medicines and good hygiene, can be prevented and even wiped out where it is currently endemic. In the 21st century there should not be a single person going blind due to trachoma, but lack of access to trained medical personnel means this disease still thrives in many regions of Africa, and even among the Australian aborigines.
 
The World Blind Union calls on governments to train more eye care professionals who can diagnose and treat the different types of diseases before they rob people of their sight. Access to health care is a human right and part of the United Nations (UNCRPD) Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 25). Governments need to integrate eye health into general health services. Medical data should be collected to keep track of the prevalence of eye diseases, and disabilities also need to be captured in data collection. Identifying and eliminating social and economic barriers that poor and marginalized people face in getting treatment will also reduce avoidable blindness.  
 
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations run by blind people advocating on their own behalf, and organizations that serve the blind in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment.
 
The WBU works with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) as part of the Vision Alliance. We worked with IAPB and the WHO on the promotion and implementations of the Action Plan on the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness: apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB132/B132_9-en.pdf
 
We also advocate for the inclusion of the needs of disabled persons in the UN’s Post 2015 Sustainability Development Goals.
 
 
For further information contact:
World Blind Union
Marianne McQuillan,
Manager, Communications