October is observed every year as Blindness Awareness Month, which focuses on understanding and supporting the problems faced by blind people. According to the World Health Organization, about 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from visual impairment or blindness. Of these, 1 billion people suffering from refractive errors, glaucoma, cataracts, and presbyopia could have been saved if they had received timely treatment. Therefore, it is vital to maintain good eye health and find ways that can help visually impaired people live their lives to the fullest.
Impact of vision impairment on people
Vision impairment impacts people on a personal, economic, emotional, and mental level.
Personal and Economic
According to the World Bank and EYElliance, children with visual impairments are less likely to complete primary school than children without disabilities. The adult population, on the other hand, face difficulty working, which lowers their workforce participation. The situation is worse for older people as they are at high risk of falls and slips, resulting in severe injuries and early entry to care homes.
According to an estimate, visual impairment has led to a productivity loss of about US $411 billion. And if we include healthcare costs, the numbers will increase even more.
Emotional and Mental
Children with visual impairment are more likely to develop anxiety and depression as they face difficulties learning and doing other activities that other children would easily do. Similarly, blindness can make adults feel lonely and isolated.
Why is blindness awareness month celebrated?
The Little Rock Foundation started Blind Awareness Month (October) in 2009 to help families with blind children. Founders Tina and Rocco Fiorentino founded it after the premature birth of their blind son, Rocco. Their son Rocco showed the world that blindness could not stop someone from achieving greatness in their life.
How can you observe the day?
You can do several things, from helping people identify different eye problems to increasing opportunities for blind people. Some of them are mentioned below:-
- Educate yourself on vision care through online and offline webinars.
- Donate money to an organization that helps visually impaired people.
- Help low-vision people at home and office.
- Help raise funds for foundations that support blind people.
- Share your thoughts about blindness awareness month on social media.
- Encourage your children, family and friends to help blind people.
- Socialize with visually impaired people and help them stay positive.
How to avoid vision impairment?
A large number of eye diseases can be prevented with a timely response. For example, cataracts can be removed with surgery, and refractive errors can be corrected with the help of spectacles. Some conditions that do not cause vision imprisonment but pain and discomfort, such as conjunctivitis and dry eyes, should also be treated in time as they may become severe eye problems in future.
Some ways through which you can keep your eyes healthy are as follows-
- Maintain your blood sugar level – People with diabetes are likely to develop diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. Eat a healthy diet, keep your cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure in check, exercise regularly and get your eyes examined by a professional once a year.
- Keep your hands clean– Always wash your hands before touching your eyes, especially if you wear contact lenses. It will help prevent many eye infections such as conjunctivitis or Pink eye, caused by bacteria that often reach the eyes from the hands.
- Protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays– Ultraviolet rays can cause severe damage to your eyes. So, wear sunglasses whenever you go outside.
Blindness awareness month was created to increase awareness of the challenges of blind and visually impaired people and remind us that we all need to take care of our eyes. So, this October, start developing habits that will stay with you for the rest of your life, whether keeping your eyes in good condition or helping the visually impaired.