World Sight Day: At Least 2.2 Billion People Affected By Vision Impairment – WHO

Israel Adeleke

On the occasion of World Sight Day, an annual observance held on the second Thursday of October, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken a significant step to address the global issue of vision impairment.

According to the latest data from the WHO, an alarming 2.2 billion individuals worldwide grapple with various forms of vision impairment, encompassing both near and distance vision deficiencies.

A striking statistic among these cases is that approximately 1 billion could have been prevented or mitigated with interventions as straightforward as the use of corrective spectacles or cataract surgery.

Moreover, this global issue extends its impact to the economic realm, with an estimated loss of USD 411 billion in workplace productivity due to suboptimal vision.

To bring global attention to the crisis of blindness and vision impairment, WHO said it has introduced a groundbreaking solution this World Sight Day.

They have launched the “WHOeyes” mobile application, which is freely accessible to the general public.

The organization explained that the innovative app serves as a vital tool for individuals to assess their near and distance vision capabilities, while also imparting essential knowledge on how to safeguard their ocular health.

“The app checks visual acuity – a measure of how well the eye can distinguish shapes and details at a given distance and is the most common assessment of visual function. It is a simple, non-invasive measure, which is critical to determine if someone has a vision impairment.”

This user-friendly application, strategically designed to reach a broad audience, is intended for use by individuals aged eight and above.

However, the organization warned and clarified that the WHOeyes App is not a substitute for routine eye examinations conducted by certified eye care professionals.

Its primary purpose is to encourage the public to be vigilant about their eye health and seek professional guidance when needed.

WHO’s Director for Noncommunicable Diseases, Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, aptly summarized the significance of this innovative tool. He emphasized that “The WHOeyes app can help people quickly and easily identify potential vision issues that merit further checking by a qualified professional.”

He also noted that “We decided to share this simple eye test and quick tips for eye care on an app, as people use their phones daily, and many people are unaware that they have a vision problem until it is too late.”

He, however, noted that the WHOeyes app is available in all 6 UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) and can be downloaded for free both on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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