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Why World Sight Day Is So Important

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World Sight Day has been recognized annually on the second Thursday of October since the year 2000. This day is set aside to raise awareness about blindness, visual impairments and to stress the importance of having the resources available so everybody can have access to vision screenings and exams.

According to the WHO, 2.2 billion people worldwide are living with some type of visual impairment. In nearly half of those cases, their visual impairment could have been prevented or slowed down with early intervention. World Sight Day serves as a reminder to have your eyes examined on a regular basis. A visit to the eye doctor is not just for updating your prescription for eyeglasses. A comprehensive eye exam also includes your doctor searching for early signs of diseases that can cause blindness and/or visual impairments down the road. This list includes but is not limited to certain types of cancer, macular degeneration, glaucoma, complications from diabetes and even cataracts. When these diseases are caught early, there is a better chance they can be treated and that your vision will remain intact.

World Sight Day also aims to advocate for better access to quality eye care in areas where it is not readily available. There are many people that do not have the resources to visit a doctor to care for their vision. There are wonderful organizations that help others gain access to basic care and supplies. I donate every year to the Save Our Sight program run through the state in which I live. This program relies on donations and grants to supply children with things necessary for good eye health. For example, you can apply for free protective eyewear to help prevent injuries during sports or eye patches for children diagnosed with amblyopia (or lazy eye). It also assists in funding free vision screenings at school. For many children, this screening may be their only access to an exam and may provide the first signs that a child is struggling to see.

As somebody living with a permanent visual impairment, I understand how important it is to take care of your eyes. There are diseases that can drastically affect your eyesight in the long term but with early intervention, treatments are available to help preserve your vision. While I am fortunate to have access to amazing doctors, many people do not. Please consider making a donation to a charity of your choice to help those in need and remember to get your eyes examined on a regular basis.

Getty image by Karelnoppe.

Originally published: October 7, 2020
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