Probably like many of you, this is the time I reflect on the year just ended and plan for the 12 months ahead. While the close of 2015 means reviewing the year’s achievements, challenges and lessons, each January brings a chance to make changes, to start fresh and enhance our recognition as the leading provider of evidence-based data on visual impairment.
So with the beginning of 2016, I’m focused on our resolve and our support of Vision2020, a program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment by 25 percent by 2019. Yes, it’s an ambitious big goal but it’s a big problem for a big world. Uncorrected refractive error (URE) is the most widespread, unaddressed disability, yet 80 percent of all visual impairment is correctable. The loss in economic productivity worldwide as a result of uncorrected refractive errors in workers is estimated at $272 billion a year.
The start of a new year is also a time to reflect on work the industry is doing to improve vision health globally. For example, we’ve seen progress in the fight against trachoma. While still a threat to people living in over-crowded areas with limited access to clean water and health care, the eyecare industry and others have made strides in reducing the number of cases of trachoma, a preventable cause of blindness. This much-needed progress has resulted in expanded resources and attention applied to the broader issue of uncorrected refractive error, and I am honored to be working side by side with so many leading this charge.
As we begin 2016, I’m still fascinated by the significant difference a pair of eyeglasses can make in the life of a person who hasn’t had access to vision correction before. It’s amazing how this simple step enables more productivity at work and with daily activities. In many places around the world, this is life changing. The best part is that a simple step toward vision correction is a major step toward reducing more debilitating vision disorders, such as glaucoma and cataracts, in the long term.
We are so excited about where the VII is going in 2016! Join with me and the Vision Impact Institute as our many upcoming initiatives encourage and empower us to continue Giving Vision a Voice.