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Close your eyes for World Sight Day
On World Sight Day 2010, October 14, Sightsavers Ireland and Dragon's Den, Sean Gallagher, are asking the nation to close their eyes at 20.20 (8.20pm) to take a moment to appreciate their own sight and think how different life would be without it. This is to recognize the 314 million visually impaired people worldwide and to mark 10 years of ‘VISION 2020: The Right To Sight' initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.
Among people with disabilities, people with visual impairment are most likely to be affected by unemployment, lower salaries and higher levels of poverty. Lack of awareness of the causes and potential treatments of eye disease and the lack of availability to health services mean that in the developing world eye disease frequently leads to disability, neglect, isolation and deepening of poverty. Worldwide almost 90% of blind people live in low income countries.
"75% of all blindness is avoidable and it is hoped through the VISION 2020 initiative that 100 million people will be prevented from becoming blind. I was born with congenital cataract and today a simple operation would restore my sight perfectly however I was four years of age when I had an ‘iredectomy' which only restored partial sight to me. Even though my sight is not perfect, I am still thankful for the level of sight that I do have. In fact, I am more grateful for my limited sight than most people are for their perfect sight, which many people take for granted.
"Therefore, every day I am incredibly aware of the gift of sight, the need to protect that gift and the importance of helping others overcome sight loss. For millions of people in the developing world access to sight-saving healthcare simply isn't an option. As part of the VISION 2020 initiative Sightsavers Ireland will help countless people to see, which is why I am asking people to support Sightsavers Ireland this year by taking a moment at 20.20 on the 14th October to recognise how precious a gift eyesight is," said Sean Gallagher, Entrepreneur and star of RTE's Dragon's Den.
Sightsavers Ireland has been working towards the VISION 2020 goal, a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness since 2000. The initiative has seen considerable progress in 10 years, but there is a great deal left to do, and only 10 years remaining to do it!
John Fleming, Chief Executive of Sightsavers Ireland explained, "Our goal is to create awareness of the issue of global blindness here at home and to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for children and adults who are visually impaired in the developing world. Working together we could stop the agony of trachoma, break the devastating cycle of river blindness and give millions of people the opportunity to be independent, work for a living and see their loved ones. Please take a moment at 20.20 on the 14th October to think about just how valuable sight is to us all."