VISION 2020 New Zealand Media release
12 October 2011
Help eliminate avoidable blindness this World Sight Day
An estimated 284 million people worldwide are blind or partially sighted, yet 80% of cases are due to causes which could have been prevented, treated or cured.
World Sight Day, happening on 13 October, is an international day of awareness to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and vision impairment.
In New Zealand, new research shows that vision loss cost New Zealand society $2.8 billion in 2009, and this figure is increasing each year. Without a focused effort on preventing sight loss, the number of New Zealanders over 40 who have vision loss is projected to rise from 125,000 to 174,000 by 2020.
VISION 2020 New Zealand is using this research to build support across the eye health and disability sectors and across political parties for a comprehensive national eye health strategy. The Clear Focus campaign, launched at Parliament on 2 August, is endorsed by 10 eye health and disability organisations and has received over 6,500 signatures to an online petition.
The Government has repeatedly supported the World Health Organization’s goal to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020. However VISION 2020 New Zealand Chair, Don McKenzie, cautions that with less than 10 years to go until 2020, it is vital that political commitment is backed with action.
“New Zealand is one of the only developed countries in the world that does not have a national plan and budget for the prevention of vision loss,” Mr. McKenzie says.
“The Clear Focus research predicts that without such a plan, by 2020 approximately 174,000 New Zealanders over 40 will have vision loss and 18,300 will be blind.”
VISION 2020 New Zealand facts
- VISION 2020 New Zealand is a national body committed to the elimination of avoidable blindness and vision loss in New Zealand.
Established in 2009, VISION 2020 New Zealand is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, the global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness and a joint programme of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
Clear Focus, a research report commissioned by VISION 2020 NZ from Access Economics, found that vision loss cost New Zealand society $2.8 billion in 2009, and this figure is increasing each year. Without further investment, direct health costs alone are projected to more than double to $523 million by 2020, compared with $198 million in 2009.
VISION 2020 NZ's Clear Focus campaign is building support across the eye health and disability sectors and across political parties for a comprehensive national eye health strategy.
The Clear Focus campaign is endorsed by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, cbm New Zealand, RANZCO NZ Branch, New Zealand Association of Optometrists, Macular Degeneration New Zealand, Glaucoma NZ, New Zealand National Eye Bank, Retina New Zealand, Grey Power (Wanganui) and Vision 2020 Australia.
World Sight Day facts
Over 80% of all blindness is avoidable. Avoidable blindness is defined as blindness which could be either treated or prevented by known, cost-effective means.
The key actions sought to avoid blindness worldwide are risk reduction, enhanced early detection, workforce development and coordination, equity of access to eye health and vision care services, improved systems for the delivery of eye care, and the gathering and dissemination of quality evidence.
World Sight Day is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, the global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness and a joint programme of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
VISION 2020 New Zealand is the local face of the initiative in New Zealand. We are united in support with other VISION 2020 organisations to work together to eliminate avoidable blindness.