‘’You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words’’ (Greta Thunberg, 2019). At the recent United Nations Summit talking to World Leaders, Greta made a stinging speech on how young people have been betrayed with words without action. For those who do not Know Greta Thunberg; she is a 16 years old Swedish climate activist, nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. She sailed to New York on a solar-powered boat for two weeks to attend the UN General Assembly rather than fly in a plane and endanger the environment.
Action they say speaks louder than words. We are in a ‘talking world’ where people hardly remember what they said talk more acting on them. The Climate is changing very fast and we are just talking about it, something worse than climate change is looming and we are not even talking about it.
Do you know that over 2.2 Billion people are blind or visually impaired, and the numbers are rising?
Well, I can hear you say ‘’it’s not that bad’’. Evidence has shown that by 2050 half of the world could become visually impaired and guess what? we are on the right path to make it happen. For the first time, the World Health Organization has published the first-ever World Report On Vision setting out clear recommendations for countries to address the crucial challenges of eye care. Read Here.
Like every other subject will the countries take these recommendations seriously? This question will be answered in time.
What can you do as an individual to protect your eyes and those of your loved ones?
I believe it is important for you to first understand the reason why Visual impairment and Blindness is on the rise.
- Where you live impacts on your chances of being blind or visually impaired: The poorer the community and country the more likely people are affected. Poverty and blindness are intimately linked. Poor people are unable to seek quality eye care and therefore have higher chances of becoming blind from avoidable causes. Blind people significantly lose educational and employment opportunities and thereafter become very poor. This explains why there are over eight times as many blind people in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia compared to the other parts of the world.
- Where people cannot access regular eye check-ups, treatment and care endanger everyone: Access to eye care is not equitably distributed, eye health is not integrated into many health systems across nations. Private practice that ought to supplement public efforts ends up taking over full responsibility for the eye care of citizens in most countries. And unfortunately, these private practitioners are for-profit businesses and will consider it an economic waste to cite ventures in rural or low economic settings. This means the poor and rural dwellers have no hope.
- Where everybody is constantly staring at computer screens and gadgets and hardly spend time outside: The increasing demand for ‘’Near Work’’ means the eyes will always be working 24/7. People hardly sleep these days especially young people and we call it ‘’Tech World’’. Even good things can turn bad where caution is not applied. The increasing rate of myopia is not an accident; we are gradually raising a myopic generation, where everybody is short-sighted. It won’t change until we return to some traditional ways of doing things, like hanging out in a cool spot rather than chatting over the phone, Spending some time outside to enjoy the ambience of nature rather than using 7D to simulate reality.
- Where people are eating anyhow and expecting to live super healthy: Agree or not, some fast foods are just fast poisons and it is only a matter of time and it will become obvious. If you are a close friend, one frequent question you will get from me is ‘’When was the last time you took fruits?’’ Fruits and Veggies are highly underrated and I think it is because of the way they appear so simple. Just like the Mustard seed, they carry great power within them that can turn a feeble sickly person to a healthy robust person. The issue is how consistently you take them. I often recommend daily intake of a variety of fruits and veggies where possible. Test and see.
- Where people spiritualize medical check-ups and boast about it like a trophy: Often you hear people brag that they have never visited a hospital in years, this is fine, but going to check for the different systems of the body with the aim of optimizing their function is better wisdom. Hypertension is fast ravaging our societies thanks to the economic tensions and harsh realities. We now see a lot of people moving around as ‘’living corpses’’ and they are not aware. Hypertension and diabetes will affect your eyes beyond what we can describe, please always check and monitor them.
Now we know the major reasons why visual impairment and Blindness are on the rise, what are you supposed to do, Please PUT VISION FIRST!!! Take your eye health seriously and ensure to have a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year.
Every second Thursday of October yearly the world celebrates World Sight Day: a day to draw global attention to eye health and call on Family, friends, Stakeholders, Partners and National government to make vision care a priority. This year the theme is ‘’ VISION FIRST’’ and here are the key messages to note:
“Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “People who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. Including eye care in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.”
Dr Tedros adds: “It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses.”
Enjoyed reading? Join me every Thursday as we work together to fight this holocaust called Visual Impairment and Blindness. I can assure you every edition will be worth the read.
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Cheers to Health at its highest level.