World Sight Day: Why It’s Important and How to Observe
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Unless you have vision problems, you probably take your eyesight for granted. As a result, you may not give much thought to what life is like for those with visual impairments. But with World Sight Day coming soon, now is a great time to start thinking differently. This annual event focuses on preventing blindness through good eye care and supporting people who have lost their vision. By participating, you can help raise public awareness of eye health as a global issue.
Have you just recently heard about World Sight Day?
You’re in the right place! In honor of the day, we've gathered some helpful information about this event. Below, you can learn all about its origins, its significance, and ways you can get involved and make a difference…
What Is World Sight Day?
World Sight Day is a global event hosted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) that highlights the importance of eye health.
More specifically, it’s a time to draw attention to eyesight-related issues and advocate for universal access to vision care. On this day—and the days leading up to it—people are encouraged to do the following:
- Prioritize the well-being of their eyes
- Share their support for global eye health services
- Learn about blindness prevention
- Recognize blindness and vision impairment as major health concerns
- Help influence governments to contribute to blindness prevention program
What Is the History of This Event?
The Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) introduced World Sight Day in 1990 as part of their SightFirst Campaign. The LCIF launched this event as a special day of service for clubs around the world. Members were and continue to be encouraged to carry out various sight-related projects, such as vision screenings and eyeglasses donations.
In 2000, the LCIF’s annual event was incorporated into VISION 2020, a global initiative set up by the WHO and IAPB. Since then, World Sight Day has become an important event among individuals and organizations across the globe. It’s now the major yearly public relations and advocacy event in eye health.
For several years, the IAPB has been responsible for selecting the theme and developing the materials for each event. The IAPB coordinates the event with support from hundreds of member organizations across the globe.
When Is World Sight Day?
Every year, World Sight Day takes place on the second Thursday of October.
For 2023, this annual day of awareness will be held on October 12. But it’s worth noting that many organizations celebrate all month long. The IAPB starts promoting activities before the official event day. This just means you have more opportunities to get involved and make a difference!
What Is the World Sight Day Theme This Year?
As mentioned above, World Sight Day usually has a unique theme each year. However, the theme for 2023 is a continuation of “Love Your Eyes.” This year, the #LoveYourEyes campaign is about the importance of eye care in the workplace. The goal is to encourage employers to implement eye health initiatives and promote good habits. And, of course, the campaign aims to have more people prioritize their own eye health.
Some of the themes for previous years include the following:
- 2022 – “Love Your Eyes”
- 2021 – “Love Your Eyes”
- 2020 – “Hope in Sight”
- 2019 – “Vision First”
- 2018 – “Eye Care Everywhere”
- 2017 – “Make Vision Count”
- 2016 – “Stronger Together”
- 2015 – “Eye Care for All”
- 2014 – “No More Avoidable Blindness”
- 2013 – “Universal Eye Health”
- 2010 – “Countdown to 2020”
- 2009 – “Gender and Eye Health”
- 2008 – “Fighting Vision Impairment in Later Life”
- 2007 – “Vision for Children”
- 2006 – “Low Vision”
- 2005 – “The Right to Sight”
Why Is This Event Important?
World Sight Day is important because it puts a spotlight on eye health. According to the WHO, at least 2.2 billion people around the globe have a vision impairment. Of these cases, nearly half could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed. A big part of this event involves educating people about preventable blindness and ways to ensure everyone has the care they deserve.
Ultimately, it’s about working together to combat the global eye health crisis.
World Sight Day also gives us the chance to learn about the challenges faced by those with vision loss. The primary goal is to decrease cases of preventable blindness and vision impairment through proper eye care. However, we shouldn’t overlook those already living with reduced eyesight. By learning how they handle the day-to-day, we can gain valuable insight and take steps to make the world more inclusive.
Here are a few examples:
- Installing ADA signage in public buildings
- Offering accessible technology in workplaces
- Providing access to equitable transportation
- Using technology compatible with screen readers
- Giving teacher and peer assistance in classrooms
- Adding more braille books to libraries
- Ensuring websites are accessible to all
How Can You Observe World Sight Day?
As noted above, this year’s theme is “Love Your Eyes,” focusing on vision in the workplace. The IAPB’s goal is to get 10 million sight test pledges by October 12. To observe World Sight Day, you can start by making a pledge to schedule an eye exam at your local clinic. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your vision checked, this is the perfect opportunity to do it.
Here are some other ways you can mark the event:
- Encourage friends and family members to have their eyes tested as well.
- Educate yourself on sight loss prevention and proper eye care.
- Contribute to organizations such as Optometry Giving Sight.
- Donate eyeglasses to others in need.
- Sign up to volunteer with those who are blind or visually impaired.
- Post about the event on social media using the hashtag #LoveYourEyes. (The IAPB even offers post templates for your convenience.)
- Stay up to date on vision-related news and legislation.
- Take advantage of IAPB’s workplace resources.
- Enter the 2023 World Sight Day Photo Competition.
- Share how you’re promoting workplace vision screenings in IAPB’s global challenge.
Additionally, you can make sure those with visual impairments have equal access to your building—or a client’s. Every facility that’s open to the public must have displays in place that meet ADA sign specifications. Otherwise, there’s a risk of going against the Americans with Disabilities Act and suffering financial consequences. More than that, there’s a chance of unintentionally discriminating against people with disabilities. So, check out the signage in your or your client’s building and determine whether new displays are needed.
World Sight Day reminds us of the importance of eye health, which affects education, employment, and overall quality of life. More than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from vision-related problems. In many of these cases, vision loss could have been prevented with proper eye care. That’s why it’s worth doing your part to raise awareness about the global eye health issue and support those with limited vision.
So, to observe this upcoming event, look for ways you can educate yourself and others and take action. If you need ADA-compliant signs that allow people with visual impairments to navigate your or a client’s building, Erie Custom Signs can help! Our selection of customizable ADA signage ensures a consistent look across displays. Check out our predesigned sign packages today.