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Vison First! is the call to action for World Sight Day (WSD) 2019 on October 10th.  WSD raises public awareness of blindness and vision impairment and brings global attention to eye disease risks, prevention and treatment. Originally initiated by the SightFirstCampaign of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000, it is now observed annually on the second Thursday every October.

IDF is urging all stakeholders, including people with diabetes and their families, to call for action from governments, medical associations, service providers, and diabetes advocacy organizations to address the growing prevalence of diabetes-related eye disease world-wide. Effective diabetes management, regular screening and timely treatment are crucial to preserving vision.

About one in three people with diabetes develops some form of eye health complication and nearly all blindness and vision impairment from diabetes-related eye disease are preventable. Unfortunately, diabetes-related eye health is frequently absent from mainstream primary diabetes care. As a result, important services fall to eye health specialists. Financial and geographical barriers to accessing eye health services block many people with diabetes from receiving sight-saving services.  When eye disease is left untreated it has a far-reaching impact on livelihoods, and financial stability for generations.

About one in three people with diabetes develops some form of eye health complication, and nearly all blindness and vision impairment from diabetes-related eye disease are preventable.

IDF and the Fred Hollows Foundation have developed tools to help make our voices heard. Consider donating time to these simple advocacy activities directed to healthcare practitioners, policy-makers and law-makers in your home country:

  1. Circulate the joint declaration “Strengthening health systems to manage diabetic eye disease: Integrated care for diabetes and eye health” (now available in the six UN languages) issued by IDF, the International Council of Ophthalmology, the World Council of Optometry and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
  2. Write a letter to the Minister of Health of your home country or similar to discuss the need to integrate care for diabetes and eye health. Use our template letter to encourage governments to take action in response to the 2019 UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Care.
  3. Let your voice be heard on social media calling for integrated care for diabetes and eye health using the hashtags #WorldSightDay – #WSD2019 – #VisionFirst.
  4. Tell IDF about the actions you have taken. Additional resources can be found on our website.

 

The scale and challenge of diabetes related eye disease means we need strong, innovative action and improved collaboration across the health system.  We must fully integrate eye health to the frontline of diabetes care.

On World Sight Day – and everyday – IDF encourages everyone to make their opinions known. We have it within our power to help make diabetes-related eye health services accessible to all.

 

Lisa Duke is Education Coordinator at the International Diabetes Federation


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