Greater action on preventative eye health care to overcome avoidable blindness is being called for by the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), and The Fred Hollows Foundation supports those calls.
A recent report released by the IFA highlights that vision loss is no longer an inevitable part of the ageing process given innovations in diagnosis, biomedicine, nutrition and preventative care.
It also states the number of people aged over 60 is expected to reach 2 billion by the mid 21st century; the incidence of age related vision loss could greatly increase globally by 2020.
The Foundation’s CEO, Brian Doolan says the economic and social implications of vision impairment could have a profound effect globally – and it is imperative work continues in this growing area of need.
“Treating blindness is not a miracle, it’s a funding allocation issue,” Doolan says.
“As this report indicates, we have the answers to prevent or treat 80 per cent of cases of blindness across the globe.
“We already have a cure for avoidable blindness and vision loss, which has been successfully implemented for governments around the world.”
Due to illness or disability though impaired eyesight, the loss of an older person's contribution to their family and community can be devastating. This can often be undermined by illness or disability through impaired eyesight – yet treatment is often simple and inexpensive.
As part of The Foundation’s commitment to eliminating avoidable blindness, one program in Sri Lanka is effectively assisting elderly people in understanding how to better care for their vision.
Collaborating with the Burnett Foundation and the Sri Lankan based NGO the Palm Foundation, the program has already established an Elders Clubs in the tea plantation of the Nuwara district. These clubs have enabled easier access to eye screening, health care services and community engagement.
“The program we support in Sri Lanka is a great example of how simple initiatives can have great impact on people's lives and in turn lowers the rates of vision loss,” Doolan says.
Since its inception, The Foundation has actively worked worldwide to end avoidable blindness, with a particular focus on cataract – a condition commonly associated with ageing that can be treated through relatively routine surgery.
> Download the full report.
About the International Federation on Ageing
The International Federation on Ageing (IFA)is an international non-governmental organization with a membership base of NGOs, the corporate sector, academia, government, and individuals. IFA aims to generate positive change for older people throughout the world by stimulating, collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information on rights, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life of people as they age.
"The High Cost of Low Vision: The Evidence on Ageing and the Loss of Sight" was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant by Bayer Healthcare to the International Federation on Ageing.