World Sight Day, Celebrating the Importance of Vision
There are many things in life we take for granted — a place to sleep at night, food on the table, and good health, just to name a few. We usually think of health as maintaining a proper weight, keeping our blood pressure and cholesterol levels normal, or receiving vaccinations, but another key component to good health is our eyesight. For many of us, visiting an optometrist or ophthalmologist is part of our regular health routines, but for many people around the world it’s a luxury they can’t afford.
There are about 285 million people worldwide who suffer from low vision or blindness. To combat those staggering numbers, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness created World Sight Day. World Sight Day is an annual awareness event on the second Thursday of October to help shed light on blindness and vision impairment across the globe.
World Sight Day
This year, World Sight Day will be held on Thursday, October 8, 2020. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, or IAPB, has chosen this year’s theme as Hope In Sight. Be sure to join in the World Sight Day conversation on social media by using the hashtag #HopeInSight #WSD2020 #WorldSightDay.
Dean McGee’s participants
Along with spreading awareness to our patients about World Sight Day, our physicians take part as well. Inspired by the World Health Organization’s VISION 2020 program, the DMEI team created the Global Eye Care Program in 2010 as a way to eliminate preventable blindness.
“In the year 2000 I traveled to China with Heart to Heart International to see how Dean McGee Eye Institute could help,” said Bradley K. Farris, MD, an ophthalmology professor at Dean McGee Eye Institute who retired from practice in 2019. “Eventually that led us to Swaziland, Africa and these efforts evolved into the Global Eye Care Program. We formalized our efforts even more with the creation of a Global Ophthalmology Fellowship and routinely take two to four residents annually to China or Africa.” In 2019, the program was renamed the Bradley K. Farris, MD Global Eye Care Program in honor of Dr. Farris’ work in helping found the program and his two decades of commitment to it. Dr. Farris continues to lead this outreach effort.
Each year the team travels to underserved populations and partners with local eye care providers to strengthen the care they can give. This program has three main activities: to serve medical and surgical missions; to teach local personnel, residents, and DMEI fellows; and to discover needs and research the best ways to meet them.
“There are many memories I have from the annual visits,” Dr. Farris said. “I think the most impactful ones were my early visits to Swaziland (now Eswatini) and seeing the human toll that HIV and tuberculosis have taken on the country and its beautiful people. Fortunately, concerted efforts by many, including our team, have seen a slow and steady decrease in loss of life and blindness from these diseases. However, much more needs to be done.”
How you can help
The Dean McGee Eye Institute needs you help to support the efforts of Dr. Farris and his team to treat preventable blindness in Eswatini and China.
With your help, they can strengthen eye care services in these areas and help hundreds of people who might otherwise suffer vision loss or go blind. To donate to the program, click on our donate page. Thank you!