For the past few decades, October has served as the time when we draw attention to the global need for good vision. Each year on World Sight Day, we are reminded that eyesight plays a pivotal role in both individual and societal progress. This year is no exception, with the theme of the day, Everyone Counts.
Whether we interpret this theme to mean that everyone’s commitment counts in ensuring the world sees better or that every person on the planet has the fundamental right to see well, we all have a job to do – and it is no small task.
Every cause-based organization seeks support from advocates around an intention to change something for the better – to feed hungry children, eradicate polio, or provide clean drinking water where access is limited. In eliminating poor vision, there are numerous factors that must be addressed in order to change the way the world sees for the better.
Poor vision has its basic roots in genetics, whether inherited through DNA or as a result of aging. Additionally, environmental causes, lack of access to healthcare, and affordability all play roles in the global prevalence of poor vision.
Our intention could then be explained as a plan to eliminate the barriers to eradicating poor vision, rather than eliminating poor vision itself.
In fact, if we are to successfully advocate for change and good vision, we must systematically address each of these barriers, creating sustainable solutions that will solidify a future free of the current roadblocks.
Building on the elimination of the barriers to good vision, we must also address the length of time until lasting change can occur. A report commissioned by Essilor to eliminate poor vision set a rather aggressive deadline. In this report, the timeline suggests addressing mandatory shifts in awareness-building, access creation, innovation, affordability, and sustainability.
Along with proposing an intention – to eliminate poor vision – the report outlined a plan that would make this intention achievable in one generation. By the year 2050, we have the collective power to overcome every barrier to good vision around the world, and to harness that power to build better economies and futures for generations to come.
As we move forward with our intention and on track to meet the timeline set for our goal, critical steps must be defined and taken. Most recently, we have witnessed action at the highest governmental levels.
The U.N. General Assembly approved its first-ever resolution on vision, calling on its 193 member nations to ensure access to eye care for everyone in their countries, which would contribute to a global effort to help at least 1.1 billion people with vision impairment who currently lack eye services by 2030. This global commitment mirrors the intention, timeline, and action required to ultimately achieve change for good.
The Resolution is the culmination of decades of steps taken by many vision advocates globally. In the last three years, reports and studies like the first ever WHO World Report on Vision, the Essilor Eliminating Poor Vision in a Generation Report, and a recent Lancet Study have paved the way for such a Resolution to come to fruition.
At the Vision Impact Institute, on this World Sight Day and beyond, we renew our commitment to making the case for good vision globally. This commitment requires that we stay true to our mission – to raise awareness and advocate for change – powered by more than 650 evidence-based reports and studies on which we build our work.
As we continue partnering with thought leaders, health policymakers, academic institutions, media and other industry leaders, we renew our commitment to connect the impact of good vision on our world: among them children’s education, gender equity, road safety, and myopia.
How will your commitment to good vision count? I’m challenged by the words of one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff who says, “No one is remembered for what they only planned to do.” Let’s do so much more than make a plan.