World Sight Day is an incredibly important global initiative. It allows us to showcase the beauty of sight and the importance of looking after it. It also provides the opportunity for raising awareness of blindness and vision loss and preventative measures that we can all take to look after our sight.
In October 2012 as part of my role as Global Ambassador for Vision 2020 Australia I took a life changing trip to Vietnam to experience firsthand the work that Vision 2020 Australia is doing to help reduce the levels of avoidable blindness and vision loss in some of the world’s poorest countries and some of our closest neighbours. I was blown away by the programs in place and the incredible eye surgeons, specialists and individuals with a passion for eye health and for educating the Vietnamese people.
My favourite moment was visiting a school screening program and meeting a young girl with correctable but severe vision loss, her father could not afford to have his daughter screened for her vision loss despite noticing she was struggling at school, nor could he afford to buy her glasses (they were only AUS$15). To see their reaction and her transformation when she put on the glasses we had provided and she realised she could now see, was overwhelming. It is heart breaking knowing there are so many more out there like her that could be helped.
Personally I have experienced the loss of my sight, I am now legally blind and to know there are millions who don’t have to lose their sight makes the initiative of World Sight Day even more crucial and so close to my heart. Such simple things like education can make such a big difference. I hope people don’t take their eyesight for granted. When was the last time you had your eyes tested?
There are over 223.4 million people in the world with avoidable blindness or vision loss and to see just one young girl receive the gift of sight was magical. Through initiatives like World Sight Day we are one step closer to greater education, detection, prevention and the World Health Organisation’s Vision 2020 global aim – we all deserve the right to sight.