World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness recognised by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Vision 2020 Australia. Held on the second Thursday of October, WSD focuses on global attention on blindness and vision impairment. In 2017, WSD is recognised on 12th October with the day entering its fifth year of the World Health Organisation Global Action Plan. This year, the call for action for WSD is, “make vision count” - four out of five (80%) of the world’s blind are avoidably so. IAPB will be launching the latest data on the prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment along with the main causes. Projections for 2020 will also be announced.
Arche Health’s Aboriginal Health team collaborated with the Lions Eye Institute Perth on WSD, offering free eye screening as well as access to a Diabetes Educator/Pharmacist at the Rivervale Community Centre. Morning tea and lunch was also provided. Blindness rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three times higher than other Australians. Approximately 94% of vision loss in Aboriginal communities is preventable or treatable, however, 35% of Indigenous Australians have never had an eye exam.
In 2012, The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision was developed by Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, outlining 42 interlocking recommendations to improve the eye health of Indigenous Australians. The Roadmap provides a comprehensive solution in overcoming the elimination of avoidable blindness and vision loss by addressing primary eye care, refractive services, cataract, diabetic eye disease and trachoma. Vision 2020 Australia has endorsed the Roadmap.
In September 2015, the Australian government committed $6.63 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health, taking the total amount to $8 million. The Value of Indigenous Sight PwC report (2015), commissioned by University of Melbourne Indigenous Eye Health, measured the value of implementing the 42 recommendations and concluded that implementing the Roadmap in addition to the provision of current eye care services and programs, will help close the gap in Indigenous eye health.
- Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness
- Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment
- In Australia, 453,000 people are blind or vision impaired
- 80% of visual impairment is avoidable – for example, readily treatable and/or preventable
Arche Health's Aboriginal Health Program offeres a range of services to the community. Call the Aboriginal Health Administration Officer on 08 9458 0522 to find out more or go to the "Our Services" tab on our website.