Blindness, or significant loss of vision, is the biggest cause of disability and affects the lives of about 4% of people globally. However, around 80% of visual impairment is avoidable. More than a billion people don’t see well simply because they don’t have glasses.
The theme of World Sight Day on October 10 is Vision First. On this day the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness wants to encourage everyone to have an eye examination – and especially school-age children, the aged and those with diabetes.
The most common causes of visual impairment are cataracts and refractive errors. Cataracts are where areas of the lens, which lets light into the eye, becomes opaque. This affects mainly the elderly, but can also be caused by an injury. Cataracts can be treated effectively with surgery.
The second most common cause of poor vision is refractive errors. Here the picture we see is not focused correctly on the back of the eye as a result of factors related to the structure and function of the eye. Most refractive errors can easily be corrected with glasses, although some might require surgery.
The problem with visual impairment is that children might be born with it, or it develops gradually over time. Many people are unaware that they’re not seeing as they should. This is why regular vision screening tests and eye examinations are important.
Once children with undetected reduced vision get to school, it can seriously affect their learning and their future. They may have difficulty in learning to read or to follow what the teacher is explaining on the blackboard. They’re often grouped as slow learners – when all they need is a pair of glasses.
Put your vision first! Have your eyes tested if you suspect that there might be a problem and encourage your family members, children and employees to do the same. Professional eye examinations are available at outlets that sell glasses or you can ask for a referral at your local clinic.