Eyesight - a precious gift to be protected at all costs

The appeal by Vittorio Tabacchi during the presentation of World Sight Day scheduled for October 11

According to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 39 million blind people in the world, 1.4 million of whom are children, and 246 million people have low vision. It is with the precise aim of promoting a culture of prevention in order to protect eyesight that every year the appointment is renewed with World Sight Day promoted by WHO: the 2012 edition will take place on October 11, the second Thursday of the month. "A day on the calendar, a symbolic appointment, but one that must become a special occasion for emphasizing the importance of regular and timely eye tests", stated Vittorio Tabacchi, President of the Eyesight Protection Committee, at the presentation press conference. "It is an opportunity to draw attention to eyesight, a gift so precious that it must be protected at all costs".


For the second year in succession, the Eyesight Protection Committee will lead a series of initiatives with the collaboration of such important associations as CBM Italia Onlus, Federottica, together with Assogruppi Ottica and Federgruppi Ottica, IAPB Italia Onlus, Società Oftalmologica Italiana (the Italian Ophthalmological Society - SOI) and Vision+ Onlus. "After last year's positive experience, when important associations operating in the eyesight and vision wellbeing sector decided for the first time to follow our lead and implement combined communications at World Sight Day" – Tabacchi added – "again this year, the Eyesight Protection Committee is proud to unite around the table the most important players in this sector. The aim is to raise the awareness of citizens and public opinion and offer important tools for prevention and testing".


Various important associations operating in the eyesight and vision wellbeing sector are collaborating on a shared program that will reinforce their initiatives in this field. "This type of team work is needed in Italy", Tabacchi emphasized and revealed that "statistics underline this conviction: in Italy, about 12 million people are shortsighted, 5 million are farsighted and 3 million are affected by astigmatism. There is insufficient testing and prevention, not only with regard to personal health but also, paradoxically, to that of children. During the last edition of 'G come Giocare' (P for Playing), we carried out over 1000 tests on parents and their children and the results were disturbing: only 30% of the children had undergone 'standard' tests at 3 and 5 years and about half of the parents needed a more thorough examination. Alarming figures that convinced us of the need to increase the involvement of other associations, public institutions and the media in order to create a culture in this area. World Sight Day is a fundamental "tool" for prevention that will protect eyesight and must unite the representatives of the sector and eye care professionals".


The Eyesight Protection Committee is promoting 4 days of free tests in Milan from Thursday, October 11 through Sunday, October 14. The appointment is in Piazza Argentina, where a mobile unit will be made available by IAPB Italia Onlus. The tests will be carried out by Vision+ Onlus eye care specialists with the support of orthoptists. Demetrio Spinelli, Ophthalmologist and President of Vision+ Onlus, a Rotary International District 2040 partner association, was keen to emphasize that "The tests will not in any way substitute a complete eye exam. They are important for raising awareness and having an initial screening, a starting-off point that will lead to a preventive attitude toward eye health that will enable us to safeguard our vision wellbeing from childhood to later life". It is not a coincidence that 2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. «We are proud to announce that our initiative will be added to the European portal dedicated to this subject: grandparents are invited to pay us a visit and bring their grandchildren with them to take different and targeted tests". Prevention and treatment for children and adults are subjects that will be handled in depth at the conference on October 11 at the Sala Parlamentino, Palazzo Giureconsulti, Milan. "Special guest speakers, some of whom are members of our Association's Scientific Committee, will be at a meeting that has been strongly urged by Vision+ in order to provide public opinion with words and facts". "This year, Vision+ Onlus" - Demetrio Spinelli concluded – "has doubled its commitment to prevention and, thanks to the collaboration and sensitivity of the Belgioioso S. Angelo Lodigiano Rotary Club, it has organized two extra days of screenings at S. Angelo Lodigiano (Lodi) and Belgioioso (Pavia) on October 20 and 21. October is the month dedicated to sight and should be appropriately observed with targeted and extensive initiatives".


For the second year in succession, the primary aim is to employ World Sight Day to provide inputs for the constant spread of the prevention culture. Unfortunately, health intended as prevention is a concept that is still ignored by the majority. Italians are concerned about physical efficiency – in this case, eyesight – only when problems arise. The Eyesight Protection Committee and its partners want to build a network of synergic initiatives that will transform occasional prevention into a healthy habit. "Scheduled servicing" – even when there is nothing wrong – is fundamental: it is the best system for seeing better for longer and for "active ageing". "Other challenges await us" - Tabacchi concluded – "And other potential partners could join us on the road toward the ambitious aim of making prevention the benchmark for each and every one of us".