In 1999, a group of organizations working on eye health had a vision: Rid the world of avoidable blindness in two decades. But as the initiative approaches its final year, the goal is unlikely to be met.
Visual impairment has become less prevalent in the 19 years since the goal was set. But there have been obstacles to more progress: Insufficiently coordinated action; failure to get a mention of eye care in the Sustainable Development Goals; and a lack of understanding of the impact poor vision can have on people’s broader socioeconomic outcomes. Even when governments are eager to address eye care, there are questions on where to start in order to increase access to eye care services. It’s not as simple as giving away free glasses.
Over the next year, Devex will explore these issues in a news section dedicated to exploring the challenges, solutions, and innovations in eye care and vision, with financial support from their partner Essilor.
Poor vision can have a deep impact on education and work opportunities, but it is not always obvious to those outside the sector, said Megan McCoy, technical officer for the World Health Organization.
Even in situations where relevant government ministries understand the importance of eye care and are eager to address it, they are often faced with questions on what to do, where to start, and how to increase access to eye care services. It’s not as simple as giving away free glasses.