It was celebrated on 11th October, 2018 with initiatives promoted by IAPB Italy. Together with the Italian Society of Ophthalmology, IAPB Italy invited many ophthalmologists to take action for prevention
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy promoted a number of events, such as free eye examinations, on World Sight Day, which was celebrated on 11th October 2018 together with the World Health Organization (WHO).
More than half a million informative leaflets on prevention were distributed inside 7,000 ophthalmologist’s offices and 11,000 opticians.
For the first time this year, thanks to a Call to Action promoted by IAPB Italy and the Italian Society of Ophthalmology (SOI), it is possible to book a free eye examination at one of the ophthalmologist’s offices taking part in the initiative, on a first come first served basis (up to 30,000 examinations starting from 11th October, still continuing in November-December 2018 and beyond). The initiative is exclusively reserved for people who have never undergone an eye examination.
Dr. Matteo Piovella, President of SOI and of the “Fondazione Insieme per la Vista Onlus” (Together for Sight Foundation), explains:
Today it is essential to make people aware about their right to be properly treated. A child has the right to safeguard his or her vision by submitting to a complete specialist eye examination performed by a specialist eye doctor who has the possibility of using the most modern technologies to obtain the best results.
On 11 October, IAPB Italy also organized a major conference in Rome, which took place in the Protomoteca room at the city hall of Rome, on Capitoline Hill.
According to the WHO, globally, there are 217 million low vision people and 36 million blind people (for a combined total of 253 million visually impaired people). A staggering 1.2 billion people need glasses and, among other things, myopia is increasing rapidly in the world. This is why it is important for everyone to have access to appropriate eye care. Even in Italy, too many people do not regularly have an eye examination from childhood. The aim of these initiatives is to raise awareness among citizens and institutions regarding the protection of the most important of the five senses: on a global perspective, eight out of ten visual disabilities are avoidable.
The Italian branch of the IAPB has been offering comprehensive information for years to educate the population on the importance of periodic eye tests for early diagnosis, to facilitate access to early care and to grant the opportunities offered by visual rehabilitation to the visually impaired. In particular, IAPB Italy founded – thanks to its President Giuseppe Castronovo – the National Centre of Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Visual Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired, which is a WHO Collaboration Center at the A. Gemelli Hospital in Rome.
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IAPB 9th General Assembly was held from 17th to 20th September 2012 in Hyderabad, when a new President was elected
Participation in the ninth General Assembly of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB was extensive. The event was held between 17th and 20th September 2012 in Hyderabad, in central India. It was attended by more than 1,600 delegates hailing from 86 countries.
On this occasion, Bob McMullan (a former Australian Minister) was elected as new president of IAPB International. At the end of the general assembly, the Hyderabad declaration was presented, which underlined the importance of actions aimed at preventing eye diseases worldwide, whose devastating effects can often be avoided through regular eye examinations. A delegation of IAPB Italy onlus took part in the assembly.
Among the subjects that were discussed were the WHO action plan for the prevention of blindness (2014-2019), the importance of international ophthalmological interventions with the participation of local populations and the possibility to defeat avoidable blindness through effective interventions (starting from developing countries).
Malnutrition remains a problem not only in many African countries, but also in India, where many children suffer from vitamin deficiency. In particular, the lack of vitamin A can cause an eye disease called xerophthalmia. Finally, other subjects were addressed, such as, refractive errors, hypermetropia and astigmatism, glaucoma and neglected tropical diseases trachoma and river blindness.
Events for eye disease prevention have been held in about 30 Italian provinces during June and July 2018
About 30 Italian provinces have been involved in a eye disease prevention campaign promoted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy. In June and July 2018, the “Estate in vista” campaign (“Summer in Sight”) took place from the North to the South of the country, with various dates in the different locations.
The format – conceived in the spirit of lightheartedness and for the protection of sight – consisted of setting up information stations (gazebos) where brochures were distributed, holding informative meetings that were open to the public and, where possible, carrying out eye check-ups on board of Mobile Ophthalmology Units.
The initiatives initially proposed by IAPB Italy have been implemented and enriched by projects of the Committees and local sections, in harmony with the characteristics of the territory (sea, mountains, etc.), and with various summer events (on the beach or by a pool). Some video clips were also filmed (which can be found below).
Dr. Michele Corcio, Vice President of the Italian Branch of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, explained:
The involvement of the holiday population and of bathing facilities was planned. It is important to speak, not in a banal way, of how to protect your eyes.
The individual projects were carried out locally by the local sections of the Italian Union of the Blind and the Visually Impaired (UICI), jointly with the IAPB Committees.
ON 16TH NOVEMBER 2017 AN INFORMATION MEETING WAS HELD AT THE POLYCLINIC “UMBERTO I” OF ROME
The degeneration of the “heart” of the retina (macula) is the primary cause of central blindness in advanced countries: it causes the distortion of images in the centre of the visual field, up to the appearance of “black holes” or blind spots (scotomas). At first, the lines on the floor or the squares on a sheet of paper look distorted at the point where the gaze is fixed; then face recognition, reading and driving can become difficult or even impossible.
This retinal disease, which generally affects people from around 55 years of age, being more prevalent in the over 75’s, is called Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): it occurs more frequently if there are already other family cases, if a person is a smoker, if a varied and healthy diet is not followed and even if someone remains too exposed to the sun without using filters. All these are avoidable risk factors that can favour the onset and progression of a retinal pathology of which there are two forms: the wet or exudative form (considered treatable) and the more common variety, called dry or atrophic (considered untreatable).
THE ROMAN APPOINTMENT
On the afternoon of November 16th 2017, an informative meeting open to the public was held at the Polyclinic Umberto I of Rome, attended by around 200 people.
Participants of the conference have been able to book free eye examinations, that took place later (on 17th and 18th November same year) at the Ophthalmology Clinic of the same Polyclinic.
The aim of the initiative was to raise awareness in people of the importance of regular eye examinations: the retina is increasingly hit by degenerative diseases such as AMD in countries with an increasingly aging population like Italy. This is why the careful examination of an ophthalmologist is even more important.
During the presentation, the various forms of macular degenerations were explained in detail, underlining at the same time the importance of prevention (which can delay any onset), and of leading a healthy lifestyle.
There was no lack of controversy: “AMD is a social illness”, said Prof. Lia Giustolisi, organizer of the event and the person in charge of the Centre of macular degeneration at La Sapienza University. That’s why public institutions should pay greater attention to AMD. The professor of Ophthalmology at “La Sapienza University” added that with regard to such an important examination as the OCT (a kind of retinal CAT scan), “it is a folly that it hasn’t been included in the regional price list”. As if to say that people are paying unfairly from their own pocket the whole price of an examination which is vital for the diagnosis and evolutional study of a disease such as Age-related Macular Degeneration, considering that in developed Countries, around half the people who are affected by AMD do not know they have it. There was also some contention when it came to dealing with the thorny issue of the costs of intravitreal injections (anti-VEGF injected into the eyeball to inhibit the uncontrolled proliferation of harmful retinal vessels in the most severe form of AMD, the wet or exudative kind).
THE “SIGHT FOR KIDS” CAMPAIGN, ADDRESSED TO 100.000 CHILDREN IN THE WHOLE OF ITALY, WAS PRESENTED IN BERGAMO ON 7TH APRIL 2018
Preventing an eye from becoming “lazy” or reactivating it by bandaging the healthy eye, means saving binocular vision. However, early intervention against amblyopia in the first years of life is essential. This is why the Lions Clubs International Foundation are promoting the “Sight for Kids” campaign, which so far, has already allowed over 24 million children worldwide to access an eye examination. In Italy, the campaign aims at getting about 100 thousand kids involved and is sponsored by the Ministry of Health and the Italian branch of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB Italy), amongst others. The initiative was also discussed extensively during the Bergamo convention on 7th April 2018. A delegation from the IAPB Italy and its President, Mr Giuseppe Castronovo, attended the event.
We know that the prevalence of the “lazy eye” ranges from between 1 and 5 percent of the world population. We should keep in mind that, according to the WHO, around 19 million children under the age of 15 are visually impaired, 12 million of whom suffer from non corrected serious refractive errors (among them are also amblyopic children).
We should prevent by all means, early damage to the sight of every human being: A lazy eye can hinder the development of brain regions connected to vision, even if the eye looks healthy on the outside.
For its part, the IAPB Italy promotes numerous campaigns addressed to children, among which are “Occhio ai bambini” (Keep an eye on the children) and “Apri gli Occhi!” (Open your Eyes!). Around 30 percent of the children who took part in another campaign called “Vediamoci Chiaro” (Let’s see clearly) had never been to an ophthalmologist. The majority of these students had only had an eye examination just before admission to intermediate school. We need to act before that age: parents should take their children for an eye examination soon after birth, around 3-4 years of age and before admission to elementary school. After that, regular testing should take place throughout life.
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