Vision 2020 …Seeing or believing!

Some years back, at about same period, there was huge celebration of a new millennium. It was the dawn of new era as many anticipated changes in various areas of their lives and the world at large. Individuals, organisations and governments set new goals which they hoped to achieve. The year 2020 was selected as the year of achieving some of those goals by many. Although the time seemed so far, it became closest days ago and now,writing today’s date will not be complete or correct without… 2020. The popular year is HERE.

According to WHO – VISION 2020 is a global initiative that aims to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020, it was launched on 18 February 1999 by the World Health Organisation together with the more than 20 international non-governmental organisations involved in eye care and prevention and management of blindness that comprise the international agency for the prevention of blindness(IAPB). Some of the objectives of WHO with VISION 2020 are

• Raise the profile, among the key audiences, of the causes of avoidable blindness and the solutions that will help to eliminate the problem.

• Identify and secure the necessary resources around the world in order to provide an increased level of prevention and treatment programs.

It’s mission, to eliminate the main causes of all preventable and treatable blindness as a public health issue by the year 2020 – (WHO)

The eyes are the window to your soul- William Shakespeare. The eyes, like the other parts of the body are important. They are listed amongst the sense organs of the body, and are essential for normal living. The eyes are the organ of sight. Looking from the outside in most cases, the eye has the white part, called the sclera and the coloured part, which is the Iris. The Iris surrounds the pupil (this is the opening through which light enters the eye). The eye has many more parts that function together for normal vision. There are many processes involved in interpreting what one has seen and creating an image that can be identified. Yes! when you look at any object,

no matter how small or large, just remember a complex process just took place…..even though it feels like nothing.

A problem with any part of the eye may limit the function of the eyes. There are many conditions that affect the eyes which could be congenital( for example, congenital glaucoma, congenital cataract, malignancies, infections like neonatal conjunctivitis) amongst many others) or acquired conditions like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, malignancies, infections, trauma to mention a few. Aging and refractive errors also affect vision. Many acquired causes of eye diseases are preventable and can be treated, with good prognosis at when treatment is started early before complications occur.

Sometimes, the conditions that affect the eyes do not produce symptoms immediately and may take a while before getting noticed, usually when the condition is already advanced. Hence the need for regular eye check up to ensure normal functioning and identify any abnormalities early.

In order to prevent developing unwanted eye disorders which affects the quality of lives of people who are affected and as a consequence, their overall health, it is important that people take care of their eyes.

Here are some tips on maintaining healthy eyes:

• Adequate nutrition:- Eating healthy diet provides nutrients that help to keep the eyes functioning optimally. Vitamin A is very valuable in maintaining healthy eyes. Omega-3 fatty acid, zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin E also play important roles in keeping your eyes healthy. Unhealthy eating habits may also lead to other medical conditions like obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart diseases amongst others.

Drink lots of water. Foods like papaya, eggs, carrots, avocado, squash, apricots, bell peppers, broccoli, mangoes, sweet potatoes green leafy vegetables are some sources of Vitamin A.

• Adopt a healthy lifestyle- Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may affect the eyes directly or predispose to conditions that does. Get adequate sleep which helps the eyes relax.

• Protect the eyes from excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays which has a negative effect on the eyes and may cause eye disorders.

• Wear safety glasses while carrying out activities that may pose danger to the eyes or when in such environment. The eyes are sensitive organs that can easily become affected.

• Limit situations that could cause eye strain like persistent staring at the screen of your phone or computer for long hours reading in a room that is poorly lit. Eye strain may cause headaches, neck and back pain, dry or sore eyes, difficulty concentrating, increased sensitivity to light.

• Avoid excessive exposure to bright light or looking directly into the sun.

• Proper hand washing before touching the eyes. For instance before inserting contact lenses

• Avoid taking sharp or dangerous substances including pins, nails, harsh chemicals near the eyes.

• Treat all infections promptly and appropriately to prevent developing complications.

• Use glasses and other accessories which involves the eyes as and when prescribed by a physician

• Seek specialist care when in doubt

• Visit your eye doctor routinely and report any observations or complaints about your eyes as soon as noticed for further evaluation, to avoid developing complications

Achieving VISION 2020 requires a collaborative effort from individuals, organisations, health professionals and governments globally.

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