Why eye care is key to an active, healthy life

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kristina Dziekan, Head, Market Access, Government Affairs and Tendering, Surgical Europe, Alcon

  • Good eye health is a pillar of healthy ageing.
  • Eye conditions are remarkably common. Those who live long enough will experience at least one eye condition during their lifetime.
  • Eye health and preserving vision should be recognized as enablers of healthy ageing and integrated into national health policies

Today, we celebrate World Sight Day to bring attention to the global issue of eye health. World Sight Day was first celebrated in the year 2000 by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IABP).

It is an occasion to encourage everyone to think about the importance of their eye health. This year’s message is simple – #LoveYourEyes. The goal is to get one million people around the world to get their eyes checked. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=facebook.com%2Fworldeconomicforum%2Fvideos%2F4425543604191563%2F&width=640&show_text=false&appId=1085482764806408&height=360

At Alcon, the global leader in eye care, we support the IABP and World Sight Day. As a company dedicated to helping people see brilliantly, we ask that policymakers be consistent with the goals of the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageingby recognizing eye health and preserving vision as a critical pillar to healthy ageing.

Image: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness

Taking action for better eye health

According to the American Optometric Association, 80% of learning is visual. Eye health is thus relevant at every stage of life. Over the course of life, people can be affected by a myriad of eye conditions including cataracts, dry-eye disease, glaucoma, macular degeneration, uncorrected refractive errors, and low-vision rehabilitation.

The incidence and prevalence of these diseases increase as the world population ages and lifestyles change. This is important because deterioration of vision and eye health affects quality of life and has economic and social consequences.

Building on the World Health Organization’s Resolution on integrated, people-centred eye care, which includes commitments on preventable blindness and vision impairment, we call upon policymakers to:

Implement integrated, people-centred eye care in health systemsthrough a focus on preventative measures, partnerships between health care professionals for timely, reliable, accessible, and affordable care, and the integration of eye care in other relevant programmes (e.g., diabetes care).

Raise awareness and engage and empower people and their communities by improving the education of eye-care professionals and their patients, conductingpublic health campaigns that emphasize the importance of eye care, and reinforcing the role of European registries to improve treatment and standards of care.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an alarming number of delays in critical eye care procedures and treatments, which has exposed the fragilities in healthcare systems. Therefore, now is the time to act to prepare for the world’s growing eye care needs.

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