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In honor of World Sight Day, which is October 10th this year, and Blindness Awareness Month, I’m asking that if you are able to, please have your vision and eye health checked by a qualified ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Per the American Optometric Association:

Periodic eye and vision examinations are an important part of preventive health care. Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms. As a result, individuals are often unaware that problems exist. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems are important for maintaining good vision and eye health, and when possible, preventing vision loss.

Blindness and visual impairment are not rare conditions. According to Lighthouse International:

Over 285 million people in the world are visually impaired, of whom 39 million are blind and 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairment (WHO, 2011). It is predicted that without extra interventions, these numbers will rise to 75 million blind and 200 million visually impaired by the year 2020 (WHO, 2010).

  • About 80% of blindness is avoidable (preventable or curable), and 90% of the world’s blind live in a developing country (WHO, 2010).

  • Globally, about 85% of all visual impairment and 75% of blindness could be prevented or cured worldwide (WHO, 2010).

  • 80% of global blindness is a result of five preventable or treatable conditions (cataract, refractive error, Trachoma, onchocerciasis and vitamin A deficiency) (Vision 2020, n.d.).

In the United States, the leading causes of blindness are: age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.  Prevention and/or treatment may be possible with these conditions. For additional information and images of how people with these conditions see, click here.

In light of Halloween occurring this month, please do not buy novelty contact lenses.  All contact lenses that are purchased without a prescription from a doctor can be very dangerous and even lead to blindness.  If you think you could never have permanent vision issues from novelty contacts, think again. Here is all you need to know from the FDA.

If you are interested in helping prevent blindness and visual impairment when possible, Charity Navigator has given 4-star ratings, which is the highest, to the following charities which work in the developing world.  There are many charities of this nature, but I would suggest you make sure they are reputable. Click on any of these links to visit their website:

Christian Blind Mission International

Helen Keller International

Himalayan Cataract Project

International Eye Foundation

ORBIS International

As I lost significant vision to keratoconus—a non-preventable corneal disease—I will also mention the National Keratoconus Foundation, which has been a great source of information for me.

If you have prescription glasses or frames, reading glasses, or even sunglasses that you no longer wear, they can be donated to those in need.  Children’s glasses are especially in demand. The Lions Club is a great organization around the world that has drop off boxes in various locations, or you may mail them your glasses in the US.  More information is on their website.

Most major cities have some type of local organization or center for the blind and visually impaired.  Volunteers are always needed and an online search can help you find one in your area.  Volunteering is a great way to help people by simply giving your time.

If you can donate even a dollar, or equivalent, to help save someone’s vision from a preventable disease, provide glasses to someone who can’t afford them, or volunteer your time, please do so.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today when it comes to the health of your eyes and never take your vision for granted.  If I live in the United States, had yearly eye exams, and started to lose my vision in my mid 30s, then anyone can.

Thank you!

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15 thoughts on “WORLD SIGHT DAY 2013

  1. dyspatient says:

    Good post. I was just telling Mr. Patient that I need to get an eye exam.

    • Yippee, and bring Mr. Patient too. 🙂 I didn’t forget about that lens issue of yours btw (just twiddling my thumbs), so here’s your annual reminder. What shall I scold people on next year? Hmmm…

      • dyspatient says:

        Mr. Patient actually is very good about getting his eye exams. He wears glasses and so he goes regularly. I do not. I suck about it. I suck horribly about it. I only go if my eyes are bugging me. And yeah, I am still having that halo stuff. It’s progressed in fact to an overall blurring in my right eye that I think is causing me to turn my head at an awkward angle when I’m working at the computer. My monitors’ brightness settings are all turned way down and I still find them to be too bright (I presume because of the glare/blur effect I’m getting). My acuity seems ok, but this glare/blur is starting to cut into that too, to the point where I find myself having to dial up the font size quite often. So yeah, I’m due for a visit. Thank you for the reminder!

      • Glad to hear about Mr. Patient and I really hope you make the appointment for yourself. I remember you told me how to adjust the brightness on my laptop as you also had that issue, but mine is all post-op light sensitivity that is never leaving. Hmmm. I would get the lens situation looked at again, but anytime something is asymmetrical, I think that means get an exam ASAP. I’ll presume you actually have a neuro-ophthalmologist in your neck of the woods just in case. Oh, what a deplorable city I live in! There are so many odd neuro things that affect the vision in EDS. There’s a big doc (with a big beard) at Hopkins who deals with EDS (ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology). He spoke at a conference and is on Vimeo, but here he is in the event you ever need the guru, as we all need to go to Hopkins and just rent a room:

        Well, the sun is up so you know what that means!

  2. Terry says:

    I think it is wonderful you are sharing this with everyone. So many need to know

    • Thank you, Terry! I made a note of the date so I wouldn’t forget and then did my own twist on it. So, you need to make sure you see the eye doc too as I know you have something that can affect your vision. And if you do wear glasses and have a drawer of old ones, it’s super easy to donate and LensCrafters takes them too, but didn’t mention as I have so many readers from outside the US. I mailed a pair off a few years ago from when I just had mild myopia (nearsightedness) and piece of cake and someone got some stylish glasses! 🙂

      A xo

  3. rachelmeeks says:

    I admit it….I’ve used novelty contacts before. They were just so cool! But I probably won’t do it again. When I first got them there were no problems, but a few weeks later I tried them again and it HURT SOOOO BAD. So no more of that!

    • Oh no! I knew I’d have a 20-something who’d used these!!! They’re really bad because they are not medical-grade (don’t allow oxygen to get to the eye) and can cause corneal damage like abrasions and scars (as in you won’t be able to see anymore) since they don’t fit your eye like my sclerals do. Stay away! I actually got the tip from my keratoconus foundation’s online newsletter and I don’t know why they aren’t banned by the FDA. Same goes for colored contacts you can get at swap meets. Big no-no. If you want different colored eyes and don’t need a prescription, you can still get them from an eye doc who will show you how to clean and care for them and they’ll be legit. 🙂

  4. dyspatient says:

    Hey, just wanted to let you know I’m going for an eye exam in a few weeks. So, thank you for motivating me to get this checked out.

    • You’re so very welcome and I’m so glad you’re getting your eyes looked at! My vision in my better eye has been weird this week and freaking me out to no end as I’m past the post-op fluctuation stage. Do you have this: If I had known I’d had EDS and had this little brochure, the inept docs wouldn’t have dismissed me until I was 1/2 blind! Ugh. Best of luck and hope you get an answer to some of your vision issues. Fingers crossed…

      • dyspatient says:

        I hadn’t seen that, but I’m gonna print it and bring it with me. On the plus side, the guy I’m seeing happens to have done his MPH at Hopkins, so perhaps he’s had some exposure to the EDS population. Not necessarily clinical, but still. It’s a start. I didn’t pick him for that, luck of the draw. Or assignment based on my rambling explanation to the scheduler at the general opthamology clinic at BATH-eye hospital here in Ye Olde Historic City. Guy I’m seeing lists work up for dry eyes and blurred vision in his clinical interests. I love when they post bios like that. If there is anything truly focacked with my eye and I need a different very special specialist, I have an in at this hospital. Mr. Patient’s good work friend’s wife is doing an optham. surgery fellowship there. Good for insider info on the docs.

      • Sounds like a start and glad you have the insider info. I think they all put dry eye in their bio, but most don’t have a clue. My dry eye doc is good with my meibomitis and it seems to be under control for the 1st time with the IPL treatments I did, but even he can’t get my aqueous layer to come back (believe this is all sicca syndrome). So, just screwed there and no sclerals unless forced (ow) until the day comes when tears come to my eyes. Boo-hoo. Well, my fingers are still crossed for you!

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