World Sight Day ( WSD ), a day of awareness coordinated by International Agency of Prevention of Blindness ( IAPB ), is aimed at raising awareness about blindness , visually impaired population as well as preventing blindness .
It is held annually on the second Thursday of October and this year takes place on Oct 8 with the theme , Hope in Sight .
President of the Sarawak Eye Society and Organizing Chairperson of Malaysia ’ s WSD 2020 , Dr Wendy See , said : “ This year ’ s celebration is special because we are going virtual for the first time ."
“ We first found out we will be hosting WSD 2020 last year and a grand physical event was planned , which included charity run , public speaking programs , as well as eye screenings . However , due to the pandemic , we transformed it onto the virtual platform , in support of the nation ’ s social distancing efforts .”
A Zoom virtual teleconference event is on Oct 8 , 2020 .
“ We are inviting all 42 ophthalmology departments throughout the nation to join the zoom teleconference event and take the pledge together in support of eye health . This is the first time we can do this , and we are quite excited .”
Meanwhile , the Charity Run , planned pre-pandemic , was also transformed into a virtual event . The 10km virtual Charity Run was held from Aug 31 till Sept 30 .
Dr Wendy and her team were overwhelmed by the warm response and participation to the virtual run event .
“ We thought that nobody would join because of the Movement Control Order ( MCO ). But we had about 500 participants running in their residential areas , parks
or on their treadmills . I want to take this opportunity to thank all of them ,” said Dr Wendy , who is also an ophthalmologist practising at the Sarawak General Hospital , Kuching .
Hoping to reach and educate the public on eye care and eye health , World Sight Day Committee is launching six educational videos on WSD on their YouTube channel . “ Currently , we have the English and Bahasa Malaysia versions . But we are in the process of making the Mandarin , Tamil and Iban versions .”
“ We have also produced a short film titled ‘ Hope in Sight ’, which is the theme for WSD 2020 . It will showcase the socialeconomic impact on a blind young lady , how bilateral blindness has affected her life , her family and her work life .”
The short film also showcases and highlights how this Covid-19 has affected the ophthalmology service and how they overcome it .
“ So ‘ Hope in Sight ’ is like hoping that medical advancement can help us find back some loss of vision .”
In Malaysia , the leading and most common causes of preventable blindness is uncorrected refractive error and cataract .”
Malaysians must be more aware
“ In Malaysia , the leading and most common causes of preventable blindness is uncorrected refractive error and cataract .”
Other causes are glaucoma , pathological myopia , diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema as well as age-related macular degeneration .
Due to the lack of awareness and low eye health literacy , many are unaware that blindness , due to the diseases mentioned before , are mostly preventable and some curable .
“ Like for uncorrected refractive error , all they need is a pair of glasses . Meanwhile , for cataract , it ’ s just a simple surgery .
“ What we are advocating through WSD is to raise public awareness and to encourage them to get their eyes screened and examined , even when they do not have any symptoms .
“ If you do have symptoms , visual impairments or even blindness , do not lose hope . Please do come for eye screening and examinations , so that we can help you ,” Dr Wendy explained .
According to Dr Wendy , prevention is always better than treatment , and education is vital .
“ We at the Sarawak Eye Hospital are honoured and privileged to host this event .
“ We hope by going virtual , we can reach out to more people to spread awareness and educate them on eye care and eye health .” — The Health