World Sight Day
Tomorrow is World Sight Day a day observed annually on the second Thursday of October, is a global event meant to draw attention on blindness and vision impairment. It was originally initiated by the SightFirstCampaign of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000.
Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness
Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment
90% of blind people live in low-income countries
Yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable - i.e. readily treatable and/or preventable
Restorations of sight, and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
The number of people blind from infectious causes has greatly reduced in the past 20 years
An estimated 19 million children are visually impaired
About 65% of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older, while this age group comprises only 20% of the world's population
Increasing elderly populations in many countries mean that more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment.
As someone Who has been a part of the blind and low vision community for some time now I’ve come to realise it’s often the lack of education around vision loss and it’s many misconceptions that are the hardest part of living with fading sight rather than the actual vision loss itself.
Here’s some of the misconceptions many people like me experience.
Blind people have superior hearing. Not true. We just focus more on our other senses rather than them becoming superpowers
Blind people need to be spoken to very loudly or they won’t know you are addressing them.
That just comes across as rude and quite often feels like it’s insulting our intelligence.
Most blind people are totally blind. Actually, the definition of legal blindness covers a range of conditions. Some have tunnel vision, others peripheral. Some can read large print. Others have focusing difficulties. Most blind people are not completely without sight. I have light perception.
All blind people read Braille.
This isn’t true, Braille has a very important role to play still but with the emergence of accessible technology and audiobooks those that aren’t able to read large print for themselves have more options than ever but there is still a long way to go til the world of literature is truly accessible for all.
Most blind people go to private special schools. Mainstreaming has been the rule since the seventies. Blind people are also involved in college campus life. Scholarships are available to qualified blind candidates. Schools for the blind are still in existence too.
When speaking to a blind person figurative speech must not be used. Untrue; I use terms such as I see your point, or see you soon. We don’t take offence at things like that.
Most blind people are inspirational. The blind employ simple, subtle, and clever techniques for getting jobs accomplished. It just means that we have to be a little more organised to do what others take for granted. Doing these things do not make us inspirational we are just living our lives.
Guide dogs know a million locations and can take thousands of commands. For the most part, a guide dog only knows four to six commands that the average dog doesn’t know. Forward, left, right, stop, are among them. You don’t tell the dog take me to the theatre and he simply takes you there. The blind person needs to navigate.
Most blind people are looking for a cure. For working age blind people, the vast majority of us aren’t spending our time feeling sad about our blindness, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our bad days. It becomes a part of our identity. Most of us would like to be treated better, and most of us would like to change the 75 percent unemployment rates within the blind community.
Days like World Sight day aim to change that and all of the misconceptions above by improving awareness.
What are you doing to celebrate World Sight Day today?
If you think that being blind means that I cannot see your face
Or that once where perfect vision was now suddenly no trace
Then maybe you will be surprised to learn of fading sight
Of sunshine’s glare as strangers stare
It’s not all black and white
The eyes are complicated things and so’s the way we see
Just because there’s little left it doesn’t mean that I’m not me
But it’s hard to see my struggles when there’s just no outward sign
For this blindness is invisible by it’s hereditary design
The effects are more internal it’s a drain on mental health
My head is full of anxious thoughts
My pride is on the shelf
The simple things I used to do these days a tougher test but I see some things much clearer since my vision headed west
For blindness taught me things I wished I’d known for many years
It’s given me the strength to tell the world about my fears
Will I become a burden
How in future will I cope
When little left has disappeared will I still see there’s hope
Will my children be affected
Destined to pick up this cane
Will they face these misconceptions
Will their struggles be the same
It’s these questions that inspire me to change how we’re perceived
For now I’m thriving blind and this blind poet will succeed
But without you reading this my story’s lost inside of me
It’s why I chose to write it down in verse and poetry
In the hope this message resonates and stirs within your soul
To be a voice for others that has always been my goal
So if my two cents has made some sense and left you knowing more
Of what someone like me can face to step outside their door
Please share this with your friends in hope this poem will erase
the challenges that those like me each day now have to face