World Sight Day 11 October 2007

Millions of children worldwide are blind and in the developing world, much of this is poverty related and easily preventable.

In the UK we are more fortunate but there are still over 24,000 children registered blind. Of those more severely affected, many have other disabilities and three quarters have vision impairment due to hereditary or pre-birth causes that could neither have been prevented or treated with current scientific knowledge, but research currently underway could provide hope for future generations.

On World Sight Day, VISION 2020 UK highlights the importance of looking after your eyes from an early age.

Vision2020 Chief Executive Mike Brace said, "Good eye health is essential for children, if they are to develop both academically and socially to the best of their ability. Yet this is the one aspect of a child's health that often gets overlooked."

Many common childhood eye conditions such as lazy eye and squint can often be treated if caught at an early age. Early examination may also identify rarer and more serious problems which, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

In this country, every child under the age of 16 and under 19, if they are in full time education, is entitled to a free NHS sight test. Many children have regular dental checks - why do so few of them have eye tests?

One of the objectives of World Sight Day is to increase public awareness of how eye health can be improved in the United Kingdom. Sight loss is a worldwide problem and VISION 2020 UK wants good practice in this country to be imitated across the globe.

British eye surgeons and British optometrists have a high reputation overseas and any progress we make here can be of international benefit. We must not allow sight loss to occur, if it can be avoided.

For more information about World Sight Day go to

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