World Sight Day (WSD) is an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of eye health. World Sight Day highlights the fact that more than 75% of all blindness and moderate to severe visual impairment (MSVI) is avoidable. This year World Sight Day falls on 10 October 2019 with the theme ‘Vision First’.
Why is World Sight Day important for the diabetes community
Every person with diabetes is at risk of going blind. Around a third of people with diabetes develop some form of eye health complication, which if left untreated can have devastating and wide ranging social and economic impacts on them, their families and communities.
Currently 145 million people have diabetic retinopathy (DR) and 45 million have vision threatening DR. By 2040, it is estimated that 224 million people will have DR and 70 million will have vision-threatening DR.
Almost all vision impairment and blindness from diabetes-related eye disease can be prevented through effective diabetes management, early detection of eye problems through regular eye exams, and timely treatment.
However, diabetes-related eye health is frequently absent from mainstream primary diabetes care and left to eye health specialists. Limited awareness that diabetes can cause vision impairment and irreversible blindness, combined with financial and geographical barriers to accessing the required eye health services mean that many people with diabetes do not have adequate access to vital sight-saving services.
What action is needed
The scale of this challenge means we need strong, innovative action and improved collaboration across the health system to bring eye health to the frontline of diabetes care.
The integration of eye health within routine diabetes care by primary health care providers
Improved collaboration across the diabetes and eye health sectors
Action to foster and support patient-centred care approaches for diabetic eye health.
What you can do about it
This World Sight Day you can call for urgent action from governments, medical associations, service providers and patient organisations to address the growing burden of diabetic eye disease.
You can advocate to practitioners, policy and law makers in three effective ways:
Write a letter to your Minister of Health/Foreign Affairs/Finance/Development to discuss the need to integrate care for diabetes and eye health. Use our template letter (Word) to encourage governments to take action in response to the 2019 UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Care.
Let your voice be heard on social media calling for integrated care for diabetes and eye health using the hashtags #WorldSightDay #WSD2019 and #VisionFirst.