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Optometrist body on mission to ensure eye health of children worldwide

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 10, 2018


In a global mission to ensure good eyesight for children, the World Council of Optometry (WCO) has been encouraging the ‘Our Children’s Vision’, an initiative of the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI), Sydney, and the global eye-care major Essilor Vision for Life. It is supported by 63 partners who together, aim to ensure that 50 million children gain access to the eye-care they need by 2020.

Further, the emphasis is to see that eye health initiatives are integrated into school health programmes, and that there is increased awareness of the risk of myopia among children. According to Brien Holden of the BHVI, “Every seven-year-old, when going to school, should take along a certificate from their optometrist saying: ‘I have had my eyes examined, I’m ok I can see’.”

WCO’s President elect Scott Mundle, a noted optometrist from the US, says his top priority is to channel energies of the global body towards reducing vision problems among children

Daunting challenge

India, China, Africa and other developing nations face this daunting challenge and there is an urgency to tackle the issue. “Our focus will be on increasing access towards providing a comprehensive eye-care and not just screening children”, Scott told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the 2nd World Congress of Optometry.

The World Council has brought together optometrists, health-care workers, corporates in eye-care and non-governmental organisations to give a thrust to the programme.

In India and China as also in many African nations the emphasis will be on increasing awareness among communities and improving the quality of optometrists, who can identify the problem early among children and provide corrective measures, he said.

Theme

The theme of the conference is ‘Accessible, quality vision and eye health’, which ties into WHO’s Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014-2019. The plan aims to reduce the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by 25 per cent by 2019. The WCO envisions accomplishing this by placing a strong and equitable eye health system within which optometry plays a valuable and essential role.

The outgoing President of WCO, Uduak Udom, said India should take the lead in this effort as it is seeing significant developments on all fronts, including strides in optometry and vision-care delivery. Even in India, the conference was told, the shortage of optometrists is rather high. Against the required 1,50, 000 for the population, there are only 40,000.

Published on September 13, 2017

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