World Sight Day advocates for 'Love Your Eyes' theme

As the world comes together to shine a global spotlight on blindness and vision impairment on World Sight Day, several global organizations and companies are stepping up to increase awareness of eye health, including the importance of regular examinations by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Vision is one of the greatest gifts, providing the opportunity to enjoy the azure skies, vibrant sunsets and the smiling, laughing faces of our children, spouses and other loved ones.

Today, Oct. 14, marks the 21st World Sight Day, an annual day of awareness, held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.

Coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), this year’s call is for everyone to “Love Your Eyes.”

As part of its efforts, the IAPB and its members are working together to increase public awareness on vision issues and blindness, calling for a focus on vision issues and eye health.

The IAPB launched its campaign over the summer in advance of World Sight Day to urge people to commit to vision screenings.

As part of its campaign, it has been urging eye care professionals, including ophthalmologists and optometrists, to get involved.

“Almost everyone on the planet will experience an eye health issue in their lifetime, yet more than a billion people worldwide do not have access to eye care services,” Peter Holland, CEO of IAPB said in a statement. “This is a global issue, but one that starts with us.”

Today, IAPB is promoting a global challenge to unite the world, bringing people across the globe together to have their eyes tested.

Answering the call, a number of groups and businesses are stepping up to promote vision .

OneSight, IAPB team up
OneSight is partnering with the IAPB and other vision care supporters who are committed to bringing vision care access to the 1.1 billion people worldwide who need it.

Leading up to today’s event,OneSight set a goal of executing 25,000 eye exams and vision screenings through vision clinics, sustainable vision centers and activities that will connect tens of thousands of people around the world to vision access and education.

According to K-T Overbey, president and executive director of OneSight, more than 1 billion people around the world lack access to vision care.

“This outage can hold individuals back from education, employment, and the ability to achieve their full potential,” Overbey said. “Eye exams and glasses act as powerful tools that can play a significant role in helping lift people out of poverty."

Overbey noted that the company is kicking off an integrated global initiative that will bring vision care to people all around the world.

“Everyone can help support this mission for both short-and long-term impact by donating time, skills or even just making a financial contribution,” Overbey said.

As part of its World Sight Day activities, OneSight has hosted vision programs to educate local communities on the importance of eye health and vision care, including vision clinics in Pittsburg, Pa.; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; and a clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y., which concludes on Sunday.

OneSight and the IAPB will host a vision screening today at the United Nations headquarters in New York, providing eye screenings and examinations to United Nations members.

Other initiatives OneSight has been promoting include the Framing the Future children’s campaign with Nickelodeon and the #ShareTheLove social media campaign.

OneSight also was among a group of global vision organizations launching a global landmark activation, where consumers across the world can see eye checks at some of the most recognizable landmarks around the world, from Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and the London Tower Bridge to The Gateway to India and New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

The Brooklyn Brudge event included special guest Ava Thomas, National American Miss New Jersey Jr. Teen, and an official OneSight Junior Glasses Champion, attended the screening to highlight the importance of vision care.

“While these landmarks represent some of the most recognizable sights in the world, more than 1 billion people globally lack the ability to see them clearly,” Overbey said. “This vision care gap can hold individuals back from education, employment and the ability to achieve their full potential.”

According to OneSight, to date, more than 471,443 eye checks/eye exams have been committed.

Following on from a landmark UN Resolution “Vision for Everyone; accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” earlier this year. UN Friends of Vision co-chair H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations is getting her own sight tested on World Sight Day.

“On World Sight Day, Ireland’s message is that eye health has the power to unlock human potential. We know that poor eye health is both a cause of and effect of inequality for women, children, older people and those with disabilities. We know that giving a child eye glasses can dramatically impact on the quality of education they can access. We know that eye health directly impacts the ability of many to access decent work, and contribute to economic growth.

Ireland is proud to be a Co-Chair of the UN Group of Friends of Vision here in New York along with Antigua and Barbuda and Bangladesh. The Vision for Everyone Resolution was adopted in New York in the UN General Assembly this year with the co-sponsorship of 115 UN Member States. This resolution highlighted that eye health is not only an important discussion in the field of health, but is also highly relevant to achieving gender equality, quality education, zero hunger, and economic growth.” Ambassador Byrne Nason said in a statement.

“For more than 30 years, OneSight has worked toward creating a world where access to vision care is no longer a barrier to human achievement and potential. The recent adoption of the UN resolution on vision has marked a pivotal moment for the expansion of vision care access globally. We feel very fortunate that the critical importance of clear sight is being recognized on such a large scale.

In the weeks leading up to World Sight Day, Alcon is among the companies to be active in promoting vision care.

Alcon in Action

Alcon, through its Dallas-Fort Worth-based American headquarters, conducted free eye exams for children at Clifford Davis Elementary and screenings at other local schools as part of Alcon in Action, a companywide day of community volunteering.

Alcon associates across 43 global sites take the Steps for Sight challenge, raising funds to support organizations improving access to quality eye care.

  • Alcon Geneva associates will dedicate the day to learning more about the importance of eye health, including onsite vision screenings and Alcon’s sight-enhancing surgical equipment and vision care products
  • Alcon Children’s Vision Program distributes free prescription eyeglasses to Fort Worth, Texas elementary school children, following prior vision screenings by Alcon volunteers

Alcon also marks World Sight Day 2021 by taking action in communities across the globe to raise awareness of blindness and vision impairment as global public health issues.

As a steadfast advocate for eye health around the world, Alcon, through its two charitable foundations (Alcon Cares and Alcon Foundation), continues to provide support to people in communities around the world who are experiencing eye health issues including, cataracts, refractive errors, corneal blindness and more.

“Our eyes are one of our most important and intricate organs. Yet, they’re often not at the top of the list in terms of people’s healthcare priorities,” said David J. Endicott, Alcon’s CEO. “Just imagine if one day you could no longer see your loved ones or participate in your favorite activities because of a preventable eye disease. Alcon is committed to educating people around the world about the importance of regular eye care as well as directly supporting access to eye care through the Alcon Foundation and Alcon Cares, in order to help people see brilliantly.”

Alcon and its associates are further recognizing World Sight Day by supporting and participating in initiatives that promote eye health awareness and quality eye care worldwide, such as:

  • EYElliance, a multi-sector coalition that aims to increase access to eyeglasses at scale, and its National Eye Health Initiative in Liberia is hosting a webinar moderated by Alcon U.S. Vision Care General Manager Sean Clark for Alcon associates worldwide, discussing the organization’s progress and learnings in the country, as well as plans to expand its impact by partnering with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
  • The Steps for Sight Challenge invites 2,020 Alcon associates from across the globe to take 5,000 steps on World Sight Day to raise a total of $25,000 for eye care organizations, including Orbis and VisionSpring.
  • Alcon Geneva associates will focus the day on learning more about eye health, including onsite vision screenings with one of Alcon’s in-house Swiss-registered optometrists. They will also participate in learning sessions about Alcon’s sight-enhancing surgical equipment and vision care products.
  • Alcon’s Children’s Vision Program, where Alcon associates and partners are delivering free, custom prescription eyeglasses to nearly 200 Texas students who participated in recent vision care screenings and exams hosted at school as part of this year’s program.
  • Alcon the Fireworks was held on the evening of October 10 in Inzai City, Chiba Prefecture, in honor of Japan Sight Day. The fireworks event was held to educate people about the “20-20-20 rule” (look at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes when using a digital device).1 While digital devices and digital content have enriched our lives, there are concerns about the impact of prolonged use of digital devices on eye health, including eye strain and myopia. It is recommended that we all follow the "20-20-20 rule" when using digital devices.1

Beyond World Sight Day, Alcon helps people around the world see brilliantly through its corporate giving efforts, such as the Alcon Foundation and Alcon Cares programs.

Additional programs include:

  • Continued partnership with Fort Worth Independent School District with the Children’s Vision Program to provide students from low-income families with vital eye care services, including screenings, exams and eyeglasses.
  • Participation with VisionSpring in India to provide low-income families with accessible, affordable and culturally appropriate optical services to enable them to return to work, receive an education and live safer, longer lives.
  • Partnership with Kentucky College of Optometry to deliver eye care services to impoverished communities within the U.S. where there are high rates of vision loss due to lack of access to eye care services.
  • Long-time partnership with Mercy Ships, providing patients in sub-Saharan Africa who have limited-to-no access to healthcare with quality eye care services.
  • Virtual and hands-on learning and mentoring with Orbis, an international non-profit aimed at fighting blindness, to train teams of eye care professionals in communities with the greatest need to help save people’s sight.

Prevent Blindness is participating in World Sight Day by providing the public with actions they can take to take care of their eyesight and the eyesight of others.

Prevent Blindness offers three steps
Prevent Blindness invites everyone to take three sight-saving steps for themselves, for others and for their communities by scheduling an eye exam for themselves; donating to organizations to help fund sight-saving services; and by urging members of Congress to support vision and eye health policies by becoming a part of the Congressional Vision Caucus.

As part of World Sight Day, Prevent Blindness is partnering with leading companies on social media-based awareness and fundraising programs, including Zenni, an online eyewear retail leader, will donate $1 per share of every Zenni #WorldSightDay Instagram post to @prevent_blindness, up to $15,000.

Followers are encouraged to share the post, with #LoveYourEyes and tell how they prioritize their eye health.

Prevent Blindness also is partnering with Horizon Therapeutics, which will donate $1, up to $5,000, for every like or share of their new thyroid eye disease awareness video, “#LoveYourEyes, Know Your Risks.”

"World Sight Day offers an incredible opportunity to continue to educate the public about the importance of good vision, the need for equitable access to eyecare, and the benefits of continued vision research," said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We also thank our generous partners for their commitment and support of our programs which make a difference in the vision health of Americans every day.”

Orbis presents PSA
Orbis International is marking World Sight Day with a number of initiatives, including a 30-second public service announcement titled “See What You’d Miss,” which focuses on why it’s important to get your eyes checked and is being shared on broadcast and social media channels.

According to Orbis, there is a common misconception that eye exams are only for getting a pair of glasses.

To dispel that myth, the company is promoting accessible and proper vision care around the globe by providing training to all types of healthcare workers and by educating communities about their eye health.

Global Eye Health Survey
Johnson & Johnson Vision has completed its Global Eye Health Survey, finding that while people are not taking measures to keep their eyes healthy and protect their vision, sight remains the sense people fear losing.

According to the company, 70 percent of adults do not plan to get their eyes examined this year, despite acknowledging the critical importance of eye health. These new findings come from a comprehensive, large-scale Johnson & Johnson Vision Global Eye Health Survey announced in advance of World Sight Day.

This year’s survey revealed key insights around the impact of the pandemic on eye health, misbeliefs about vision correction options for aging eyes, the intersection between eye health and beauty, and the high potential for missed early intervention for children with vision correction needs.

Serving as the cornerstone of J&J Vision’s “Prioritize Your Eyes” campaign, the survey was launched in advance of World Sight Day in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of getting an annual eye exam, both for adults and children alike.

Shlomi Nachman, group chairman, Cardiovascular and Specialty Solutions Group and Johnson & Johnson Vision, said the company is committed to changing the trajectory of eye health, and that starts with getting an annual comprehensive eye exam.

“This year’s survey shows that, globally only 3 in 10 people have scheduled or plan to schedule an annual eye exam as eye care offices have reopened,” Nachman said.

Nachman noted that a goal of the “Prioritize Your Eyes” campaign is to highlight the importance of seeing an ophthalmologist or optometrist regularly for eye health.

The survey found that 86 percent of the world’s adult population fear losing their sight above any other sense.It is likely for this reason that globally, 88 percent of people view eye health maintenance a priority for their overall health.

Despite recognizing the importance of vision and eye health, only 52 percent of respondents say they get annual eye exams.

Eye health and the pandemic
The Johnson & Johnson survey reveals more than one-third of respondents believe their vision has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

However, despite this reported awareness, 70 percent of all respondents said they do not plan to schedule an eye exam in the year ahead—the single most important step to protect your eyes.

Survey results show that although three-in-four (75 percent) parents indicate they believe it is more important for their child to receive an eye exam than it is for them—and the majority (61%) of parents indicate they’re concerned about their children being diagnosed as nearsighted (myopic)—only one-quarter (27 percent) plan to schedule an annual eye exam for their children.

Beauty and eye health
Astonishingly one-in-four respondents (27 percent) indicated they’re more concerned about how their eyes look than the health of their eyes.

Nearly 30 percent of respondents indicated they would change the color of their eyes for a day if they could.

For those with aging eyes, three in 10 (29 percent) worry wearing glasses will make them look old or impacts their self-confidence (30 percent), yet only 37 percent of respondents know contact lenses are available as an alternative to multifocal glasses as they age.

Don’t wait on cataracts
Moreover, 72% of respondents who had a cataract surgery said if they would have known how much better their vision would be after cataract surgery, they would have done it sooner. And 56% did not realize how bad their vision was until after surgery.

With 94 million people affected by cataracts worldwide[i] the survey revealed that people may be delaying cataract treatment due to misbeliefs about the procedure.

Less than half of all respondents (46%) realized cataract surgery is outpatient and only 31% realized the procedure can take less than 10 minutes to perform.

CooperVision initiatives
CooperVision is marking World Sight Day with a new video highlighting the prevalence of myopia among children.

In the video, which will goes live today, Dan McBride, president of CooperVision, and Juan Carlos Aragón, OD, president of CooperVision Specialty EyeCare, discuss the company’s myopia management portfolio, as well as its partnership with the World Council of Optometry to help drive a standard of care for myopia management.

The company will focus on the “Love Your Eyes’ theme with posts on the CooperVision Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels.

To raise advocacy, awareness, and knowledge of the importance of proper eye health services in schools, CooperVision also has made a $40,000 investment to support IAPB’s 2022 forthcoming Focus on School Eye Health Initiative, which is composed of a series of webinars, events, blog posts, and video content.

CooperVision also is holding events at its offices around the globe to raise money for World Sight Day.