World Sight Day Activities Report

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Western Pacific

In Australia, Vision 2020 Australia launched a special WSD micro-site with loads of advocacy material and pictures of celebrities and politicians showing support for World Sight Day.

To celebrate World Sight Day on 10 October 2013, the Macular Disease Foundation Australia's Ambassadors Jan Utzon and Jean Kittson joined forces to highlight the enormous impact macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Australia, has had on their parent’s lives.

Jørn Utzon, who designed Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House, lived with macular degeneration in his later life. “My father, Jørn Utzon, was a visionary man and witnessing his sight deteriorate from macular degeneration was heartbreaking. The trauma the disease inflicts is enormous and I urge society to make greater efforts in research to find a cure,” said Jan from his home in Denmark.

Jean Kittson's mother Elaine, like so many Australians, proudly witnessed the Sydney Opera House being designed and built 40 years ago. Today Elaine has severe vision loss from macular degeneration and like thousands of older Australians of her generation, has lost her central vision, "Little did mum know that 40 years on she would not be able to see the world famous Sydney Opera House," said daughter Jean.

Over 1 million people (1 in 7 over 50) show some evidence of macular degeneration and those who have a direct family history, like Macular Disease Foundation Australia Ambassadors Jan and Jean, have a 50% chance of developing the disease. Jean's mother, both her uncles and one of their parents, as well as other family ancestors, have been affected by macular degeneration.

The Foundation will be awarding the prestigious Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grants of $600,000 to outstanding Australian researchers at an event; Through his Eyes, which will be hosted in the Utzon Room at Sydney Opera House.

Staff at Caneland Shopping Centre Westfund, Eyecare Mackay donned eye patches today to promote eye health awareness as part of World Sight Day.

The regional health insurer is encouraging people to prioritise eye health and is also raising money to help those with vision impairments and blindness in third world countries.

In Fiji, World Sight Day coincided with Fiji day! Several organisations based in Fiji would commemorate the day, including the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, the Health Ministry and the Pacific Eye Institute.

In Malaysia, the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital celebrated World Sight Day by having eye screening for patients from old folks home at the Hospital.  Patients found to have cataract were given free cataract surgery.  The Press were invited to highlight activities and issues related to eye health on the World Sight Day.  A total of 21 elderly people had their cataract surgery done.  Also an eye screening at the Malaysian Association for the Blind in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur was held during the WSD Celebrations.

In Papua New Guinea the Brien Holden Vision Institute held a rally in Boroko Square, coordinated by PNG Eye Care with support from St John’s Blind Services and the Eye Clinic staff at Port Moresby General Hospital. PNG Eye Care also hosted a Stakeholders event on behalf of the National Prevention of Blindness Committee to raise awareness about avoidable blindness and vision impairment in PNG.

Vietnam engaged in World Sight Day this year with performances, speeches and vision screenings (for the community and school students) at the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Eye Care Centre with the support and presence of 25 top provincial vision care leaders to help encourage the local community to get their eyes tested.

The Fred Hollows Foundation in Vietnam used WSD to highlight the work they delivered in the full year under the Viet Nam Comprehensive Eye Care Development Project (SIBV) in 4 provinces of Vinh Long, Tien Giang in Mekong Delta area and Dak Nong, Lam Dong in Central Highland area. The celebrations included various activities such as public banners, meetings, parades, television and radio broadcasting. More than 1,700 people were screened during these campaigns, where they received free examination, treatment and medicines.  WSD was also a good opportunity to promote cooperation and participation of relevant bodies in projects and more importantly, to enhance awareness of local people about their eye health.

In Tien Giang province, eye disease screening for people at ‘social sponsor centres’ - orphans, people with physical and mental disabilities – was taken up. 564 people at these social sponsor centers were screened and 292 people detected with eye conditions such as cataract, glaucoma, presbyopia, conjunctivitis, strabismus, myopia and so on. All of them were referred to Tien Giang Eye Hospital for further examination. 300 members of the Elderly Association in My Tho city were also screened. The event was organized at Tien Giang Eye Hospital and 16 staff from the Standard Chartered Bank donated a full-working day to support the screening. 113 people with cataract and pterygium were detected and referred for further treatment.

In Vinh Long province, 230 elderly people were screened and those with eye conditions were referred to the eye department of the district general hospital or provincial eye department of Social Diseases Control Center for further treatment. 28 banners with eye messages were produced and displayed in public places to promote eye health in the community.

In Dak Nong province, 2 panels and 10 banners with key messages were displayed in crowded places; a van with speakers ambled throughout the province and broadcasted eye care messages. Following the van were 11 motorbikes with 20 health staff distributing leaflets, posters on cataract disease and eye care to the people along the roads! This was accompanied by radio messages which focused on eye diseases and sight restoration that covered 60 communities, especially minorities within the 31 ethnic groups who make up the third of Dak Nong’s population. A free screening campaign for elderly people was implemented and 121 were detected with eye problems. They were provided medicines and free cataract surgery coupons.

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