A global health issue we see coming

By: Courtenay Holden, Marketing and Communications Manager, Our Children's Vision

 What would happen if you were asked to take off your glasses, or live a day without your contact lenses? How would that impact your life?

Maybe you wouldn’t be able to recognise the faces of your loved ones, you couldn’t read your emails or watch the big game – but for you, you’d put back on your glasses, or pop in your lenses and clarity would be restored. Simple. Life back to normal.

But for millions of children around the world, life’s not that simple. They can’t get an eye exam, let alone a pair of glasses – something we take for granted. So what does it mean for these children who live in a permanently blurred world?

It is exactly what you would think. They can’t play outside safely, so they struggle to make friends. They can’t see the blackboard, so they struggle to learn. They are hindered in every aspect of their life and it doesn’t stop at childhood. Because they didn’t have a good education, they struggle to find employment. Without a good job, they struggle to afford a home, feed their families and educate their children.

A simple pair of glasses, or lack thereof, can set off a chain reaction.  If a child’s vision is not corrected while they are at school - they will struggle to break free from the poverty cycle.

Our Children’s Vision, a global campaign with the sole prupose to change this, was recently launched in New York. The campaign will reach 50 million children with eye care by 2020.

Inaccessible eye care is a problem that has been around for years, so why draw attention to it now? Well, recent evidence shows that myopia (short sightedness) is massively on the increase. If nothing is done to reverse the trend, by 2050 half of the world’s population will be short sighted. 

Prof Kovin Naidoo, Campaign Director explains, “We are potentially facing the biggest public health challenge of our generation.”

“We can reverse, or at a minimum slow down this trend. But to do so we need to reach children under or around the age of 12 – while their eye is still developing,” he added.

We need to act now. Our Children’s Vision is bringing together, for the first time, governments, development agencies, optical corporations, practitioners and communities to make sure each and every child who needs a pair of glasses has them, or receives treatment.

We cannot remove all the barriers that our children face, but we certainly can remove one. Join us.


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