OPHTHALMIC EDUCATION VISION 2020: The Right To Sight – Part 1 [Archives:2001/18/Health]

April 30 2001

Mahfouth A Bamashmus
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Ibn Al-Haitham Clinic
University of Science & Technology, Sana’a
Ahmed Al-Shabooti MD
Head of Ophthalmology Department
Al-Thawra Hospital,
Every 5 seconds one person in the world goes blind and a child goes blind every minute. If national and international efforts to avert blindness are not intensified, the number of people with severe visual disability will double by the year 2020.
The mission of Vision 2020 is to eliminate the main causes of blindness in order to give all peoples of the world, particularly the millions of needlessly blind, the right to sight.
Vision 2020: The Right to Sight is designed to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. The program will enable all parties and individuals involved in combating blindness to work in a focused and coordinated way to achieve the common goal of eliminating preventable and treatable blindness. Vision 2020, in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), is a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, which will take on the following responsibilities:
Increase awareness of blindness as a major public heath issue
Control the major causes of blindness
Train ophthalmologists and other personnel to provide eye care
Create an infrastructure to manage the problem
Develop appropriate technology

Vision 2020 involves the active participation of UN agencies, governments, eye care organizations, health professionals, philanthropic institutions and individuals working together in a global partnership to accomplish this goal by the year 2020.

80% of the world’s blindness is avoidable.
There are 45 million blind people and 135 million with low vision, comprising a total of nearly 180 million people with some degree of visual impairment
90% of the world’s blind people live in developing countries
There are least 9 million blind people in India, 6 million in China, and 7 Million in Africa – together this constitutes half of the global burden of blindness
People who live in the developing world are 10 times more likely to go blind than people who live in highly industrialized countries
The main priorities for eliminating avoidable blindness are cataract (an eye disease of ageing), eye infections (trachoma and onchocerciasis), and visual loss in children
It is estimated that at least 7 million people become blind each year
The treatments available for the prevention and cure of blindness are among the most successful and cost-effective of all health interventions

Vision 2020 aims to prevent an additional 100 million men, women and children from becoming blind by the year 2020.

Reference: WHO launches Vision 2020 to combat avoidable blindness. Public Health Rep. 1999