Age Related Sight Loss a “Global Time Bomb”
The worldwide increase in age-related sight loss threatens to be a global time bomb. The lack of response from national governments and blindness organisations means that the dramatic rise in the number of blind and partially sighted people will overwhelm resources.
This will be the news from the World Blind Union (WBU) General Assembly meeting in Bangkok on the 12th November, which will see the launch of a report entitled “Ageing and Visual Impairment” which shows the dramatic rise in age related sight loss. The event will also see the launch of a joint campaign by the WBU and the AMD Alliance International (AMDAI), the organisation committed to preserving the vision and improving the quality of life of individuals affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The two groups have committed to bring about change, working with local organisations to prepare action plans and develop new initiatives for a health and social care response for older people experiencing sight loss.
Narinder Sharma, CEO of AMDAI, said; “The size of the threat posed by age-related sight loss cannot be overstated. For this reason we are proud to campaign with the WBU to ensure that this challenge is recognised and the necessary resources deployed to making change happen”.
WBU President Maryanne Diamond added; “We are delighted to work on this practical project alongside the AMDAI to address this global challenge. This project brings us together with the medical and scientific community represented by the Alliance. It is through such partnerships that we will make a real difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people.”
The Chairman of the WBU’s Elderly Network, Alan Suttie, who led on this project said : “The WBU General Assembly offers a unique opportunity to put the needs of the growing number of elderly blind people on the agenda of national governments and NGO’s. Our aim is that sight loss in older age should be met with effective rehabilitation and support so that people can remain contributing members of their families and communities”
Dr Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International and Founding Chair of AMD Alliance International’s Scientific Advisory Panel, explained; ”The resource provides practical steps and guidance to help direct the development of local strategies and support. We believe that this project can make a real difference.”
Dr Au Eong Kah Guan, Medical Director at Singapore International Eye Cataract Retina Centre and a member of AMD Alliance International’s Scientific Advisory Panel, said: “To combat the emerging challenge of age-related sight loss, novel strategies and programs such as the annual AMD Awareness Week which has been very successfully organised by the AMD Alliance International in collaborations with local organisations in several countries should be duplicated in as many parts of the world as possible, especially in the Asia Pacific region where awareness of age-related blinding conditions such as AMD is low.” Dr Au Eong will share the experience of Singapore’s AMD Awareness Week at the WBU General Assembly in Bangkok as an example of how governments and organisations can respond to the anticipated onslaught of age-related sight loss.