OPHTHALMIC EDUCATION VISION 2020: The Right To Sight – Part 3 [Archives:2001/20/Health]

May 14 2001

Mahfouth A Bamashmus
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Ibn Al-Haitham Clinic
University of Science & Technology, Sana’a
[email protected]
Every 5 seconds one person in our world goes blind and a child goes blind every minute. Our mission is to eliminate the main causes of blindness in order to give all people in the world, particularly the millions of needlessly blind, the right to sight.

Leading causes of blindness
4.Childhood Blindness
5.Nutritional Blindness
6.Refractive Errors and Low Vision
The first three were discussed in the part 2 of this series.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 1.5 million blind children worldwide, mainly in Africa and Asia. In developing countries blindness in children is usually caused by conditions which cause scarring of the cornea (the front of the eye) such as vitamin A deficiency, measles infection, conjunctivitis of the newborn and harmful traditional eye medicines. Elsewhere, the main causes are cataract, retinopathy of prematurity, genetic diseases and congenital abnormalities.

Vitamin A deficiency – blinding malnutrition (xerophthalmia) – is the major cause of blindness in children. An estimated 250 million pre-school children are vitamin A deficient, and each year 350,000 children go blind and 2 million children die from lack of vitamin A. At a cost of only 5 US cents a dose, vitamin A supplements reduce child mortality by up to 34% in areas with vitamin A deficiency. Millions of vitamin A capsules have been directly distributed to those in need on an annual basis.

To reach its goal Vision 2020 needs to provide Low vision care to over 35 million persons worldwide. This, for instance, will allow children with low vision to be integrated into regular schools rather than be taught in special schools for the blind. The provision of these services will help insure a better future for visually impaired children and adults by the year 2020.

A much larger number of persons including school children, require correction of refractive errors such as short sightedness and long sightedness. Vision 2020 will enable them access to corrective spectacles at affordable costs.

Vision 2020 aims to prevent at 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