Kolkata: With 80 per cent of visual impairment being avoidable, the World Health Organisation (WHO) today called for reducing the prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by 25 per cent within 2019.
"To reduce avoidable blindness and visual impairment, we must ensure universal access to comprehensive eye care services. There is a need to review and reinforce existing measures so that nobody suffers visual impairment and those with unavoidable vision loss can still achieve their full potential," WHO regional director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement.
The WHO Global Action Plan (GAP) for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment 2014-2019 emphasizes on improving eye health for everyone and reducing the prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by 25 per cent by the year 2019, she said.
World Sight Day is being observed today with a focus on 'eye care for all.'
The South East Asia Region has an estimated 12 million blind people including 8 million from India.
More than 50 per cent of all blindness is caused by cataract which accounts for 33 per cent of visual impairment, the WHO said, adding that these statistics should be viewed against the fact that 80 per cent of visual impairment is avoidable.
"And that the blindness prevention strategies and restoration of sight are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care," Singh said.
Suggesting that implementing simple measures such as eye care services in schools to detect and correct refractive errors in children, she said quality surgical procedures can help cataract patients get back to normal lifestyle very quickly.