Leading collaboration in the eye health and sight loss sectors
Eye Health Mercy Jeyasingham, CEO of VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella body for the eye health and sight loss sectors, outlines the challenges and reasons for optimism within the sector.
This is a very interesting time for the eye health and sight loss sectors. Not only is there the challenge of access to good quality services with rising demand due to new treatments and diminishing resources, it is also a time of innovation and change. From bionic eyes to the prospect of autonomous vehicles, there is real hope amongst the tide of disappointments we have seen with diminishing funding for medical research and the shortage of trained rehabilitation workers. As the umbrella organisation for the eye health and sight loss sectors, representing charities and professional bodies, VISION 2020 UK finds itself at the heart of these issues.
For many eye conditions the emphasis on a healthy lifestyle such as a good diet, exercise and quitting smoking are important. However, individuals with multiple conditions and needs (e.g. dementia or learning disabilities) are often overlooked. Access to low vision services and support from trained rehabilitation workers who can support people with sight loss to live independently is pivotal.
We have seen short sightedness (myopia) in children almost double in the last 20 years. Although there seems to be a variety of causes, the sector now agrees it is important that children spend 2 hours outside in sunlight every day. Glaucoma is a preventable cause of blindness if timely effective and successful treatment is provided. Patient adherence to the medication is a constant challenge that is now recognised as an essential component to treatment.
The impact of sight loss can have huge emotional impact so access to good emotional support and counselling essential. At VISION 2020 UK we are interested in medical and social research, identifying and developing evidence based practice and influencing change in health, social care and in wider society. As part of the WHO global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness we know there is much work to do.