World Sight Day: Time for Canadians to take action in the global effort to eliminate avoidable blindness

Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

CALGARY, Alberta, Oct. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Those who live long enough will experience at least one eye condition during their lifetime, which is why today, on World Sight Day, Calgary-based Operation Eyesight is encouraging us all to make eye health a global priority. 

The World Health Organization’s first-ever World Report on Vision highlights the critical need for global action in the fight against avoidable blindness. Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment, and of these, at least 1 billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be treated. To address significant challenges in eye care, the World Report offers a key proposal to make integrated people-centred eye care, embedded in health systems and based on strong primary health care, the care model of choice and scale it up widely.

“We know that avoidable blindness is a global issue, and that collectively we need to take action immediately. Operation Eyesight has already developed a successful eye care model that aligns with the WHO’s recommended approach,” says Aly Bandali, President and CEO of Operation Eyesight. “Through our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Model, we’re able to empower people to take control of their health and increase their adoption of health-seeking behaviour.”

Operation Eyesight works with local partner hospitals and governments to integrate eye care services into the primary health care systems, providing the same level of care to both paying patients and those who cannot afford to pay. Operation Eyesight-trained community health workers go door to door in vulnerable communities, screening people for vision problems, referring them for treatment, and educating them on eye health and general health. Operation Eyesight first launched its Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Model in India in 2009, and has since expanded it to Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia with great success.

“The burden of vision impairment weighs more heavily on low- and middle-income countries, and the global demand for eye care is set to surge in the coming years,” says Bandali. “We all have a role to play in making eye health a priority, both for ourselves here in Canada and for those around the world who are struggling needlessly with vision impairment.”

The World Report also recognizes the success of the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy for trachoma elimination, which Operation Eyesight has successfully implemented in Kenya and Zambia. In Zambia’s Sinazongwe district, one area where Operation Eyesight has focused its efforts, the prevalence of blinding trachoma has been reduced from 14.5 per cent to 3.46 per cent. 

With support from donors in Canada, Operation Eyesight has restored sight and prevented blindness for millions of people – For All The World To See. To learn more or make a donation, visit

About Operation Eyesight
Operation Eyesight is an international development organization working to prevent blindness and restore sight in low- and middle-income countries. Founded in Calgary in 1963, the organization currently has eye health programs in India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia and Zambia. In partnership with local hospitals and governments, Operation Eyesight invests in sustainable treatment, prevention and community development activities to address specific eye health problems as well as the root causes of avoidable blindness. To learn more, visit

About World Sight Day – October 10, 2019
World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. It’s coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, of which Operation Eyesight is a member. This year’s theme is ‘Universal Eye Health’ and the call to action is “Vision First!”. For more information, visit

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Community health worker screens a woman in India for eye health issues

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