World Sight Day

In a bid to spread awareness on blindness and vision impairment, World Sight Day is celebrated every year. An annual event, it is celebrated on the second Saturday of October. Along with bringing global attention to the issues of the eye, the day is observed to encourage blindness prevention efforts. According to the Government of India, 80% of blindness can be prevented. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), about a billion people have “preventable vision impairment or one that is yet to be addressed.” As many as 4 out of 5 people have avoidable vision impairment, as per GOI.

Many reasons can cause reduced, or compromised eyesight. The WHO has enlisted several diseases regarding that, which include diabetes, trauma to the eyes, trachoma, cataracts, conditions such as refractive error, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Although anyone can suffer from vision, however, it largely affects those over the age of 50. Visual impairment can have a major impact on a person’s life. Not only does it affect day-to-day life, but it also affects a person’s social life, lowers or impacts school or work opportunities, and makes it difficult for him/her to avail public services.

World Sight Day: A Look Back

October 8, 1998, was the day World Sight Day was first celebrated. For that, Lions Club International partnered with several blindness prevention organisations worldwide. Later, it was integrated into ‘VISION 2020’, which is an international initiative coordinated by the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness), which is an international agency that works to promote eye health.

Factors That Damage Eye Health

There are several factors that affect eye health, such as:

  • Ageing: Our eyesight deteriorates as we age. This can be largely due to muscular degeneration, and conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma. 
  • UV Light: Overexposure to both visible and ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause eye damage. However, the cornea in our eyes is a good absorber of UV light, and if that gets damaged, it can cause cataracts.
  • Overuse Of Alcohol: Although alcohol cannot be singled out as a factor that impacts eye health as it is often associated with other factors, such as smoking, it is understood to affect eyesight both directly and indirectly. Directly by interfering with the proteins in the lens, and indirectly by lowering nutrient absorption, which in turn hampers eye health.
  • Smoking: Smoking poses several health issues, including the impact on eye health. Smoking and poor eye health are believed to be linked by oxidative stress. The antioxidants help maintain the eye lens transparent, and oxidative stress impacts that. The tobacco in cigarettes is also believed to cause cataracts at a young age. 
  • Excessive Screen Time: From TVs, computer screens to smartphones and tablets, we spend an awful amount of time staring at the screen. Not only does it put eye strain and causes dry eye, but it has also been linked to myopia or near-sightedness. 
  • Nutrition: Just like every other aspect of our health, eye health is impacted by poor nutrition.
  • Diseases: Certain diseases and conditions also lead to poor eye health, such as diabetes, obesity, and microvascular damage. 

Common Eye Diseases And Disorders

Eye issues that are minor don’t last for long and can be corrected by medical treatments, however, the major ones can even cause permanent eye damage. Here are some common eye diseases and disorders:

Refractive Errors:

  • These are the most common eye problems.
  • The cornea and lens in the eye help us focus. Refractive errors occur when we are unable to focus. 
  • Refractive errors are of 4 types:

           Myopia (Near-Sightedness): Can see nearby objects clearly but not those far away.

           Hyperopia (Far-Sightedness): Can see far-off objects clearly but not those nearby.

           Presbyopia: A result of ageing, this condition hinders the person’s ability to focus on nearby objects.

           Astigmatism: Inability to see clearly at any distance.

  • Common symptoms of refractive errors include blurred vision, haziness, glare, double vision, halos around bright lights, eye strain, headache, and/or squinting.
  • These can be corrected by glasses, lenses, or certain corrective eye surgeries.


  • The leading cause of blindness worldwide, cataracts are the clouding of the eye lens. 
  • Although it can develop at any age, and can even be present at birth, it is more common in old age. 
  • Cataracts can be present in one or both eyes, but cannot spread from one to the other. 
  • Common symptoms include blurred vision, inability to see well at night, glare, a halo around bright light, double vision, etc.
  • It can be treated with surgery.


  • It is a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve, gradually leading to blindness.
  • It is of two types:
  • Open-Angle: Without displaying any visible symptoms, this progresses slowly, and in many cases, the person is diagnosed when the disease is in an advanced state. It is often called the ‘sneak thief of sight’.
  • Closed-Angle: This progresses quickly and painfully. The pain and discomfort are such that it prompts people to seek early medical care.
  • Early treatment for glaucoma can prevent serious vision loss. 

Diabetes-Related Eye Problems

  • If suffering from diabetes, your blood sugar level tends to be high. Prolonged over a long time, it affects eye health.
  • The most common diabetes-related eye problem is diabetic retinopathy, in which the tiny blood vessels inside the retina get damage. It can be corrected with surgery. 


  • Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is the inflammation of the outer layer of the eye or inside of the eyelid.
  • It can cause irritation, itchiness, redness, burning sensation, and/or discharge. 
  • It can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, allergy, or the use of certain products such as eye drops, ointments, etc.
  • It doesn’t need any medical intervention and generally goes away within a few days. However, a bacterial infection often needs care with an antibacterial ointment/drop. 

Foods That Are Good For The Eye

It is often believed that eyesight is something that inevitably goes for a toss with age or due to excessive eye strain. However, making certain lifestyle changes can prevent it. For example, foods rich in zinc, copper, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, vitamin C and E, promote good eye health. Here are some foods that you must include in your diet for good eyesight:

  • Carrot
  • Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Seeds, such as chia and flaxseeds
  • Eggs
  • Fatty fish
  • Lean meat and poultry

Exercises For Eye Health

Although not a cure for eye diseases and disorders, the following eye exercises help reduce eye strain and stress:


  • Rub your palms and fingers to make them warm.
  • Next, place the fingers of both your hands on your eyes. Your palms should be on cheekbones.
  • Relax and try to clear your mind.
  • Repeat the same 4-5 times.

Eye Rolling

  • Sit straight, relax, and look straight.
  • Next, slowly look upwards, then to the right, downwards, to the left, and back upwards, before looking straight again.
  • Repeat the same 4-5 times, and do the same anti-clockwise.


  • Sit straight with your eyes open.
  • Blink rapidly about 10 times.
  • Close your eyes for 15-20 seconds, during which take deep breaths.
  • Open your eyes again and repeat the same 4-5 times.

Focus Shifting

  • Sit straight with your right arm extended in front of you.
  • Stick out your thumb in the thumbs-up position.
  • Set your focus on the thumb. 
  • Gently, move your arm slowly to the right.
  • As you move your arm, your gaze should move along with it, so that you keep on focusing on the thumb.
  • Remember, your neck and chin shouldn’t move from the original position. Just your gaze should shift.
  • Take your arms as far as your eyes can see the thumb.
  • Next, slowly bring your arm back to the original position, before shifting it to the left.
  • Repeat this 4-5 times. 

Tips For Good Eye Health

Here are some tips that will help you to maintain and improve your eye health:

  • Have a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits and leafy greens. Omega-3 fatty acids are a crucial nutrient that is good for eye health.
  • Check your weight, as being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing diabetes, which is extremely bad for eye health.
  • Exercising regularly can decrease your risk of developing diabetes, thus making you less prone to eye diseases and disorders.
  • Quit smoking as smoking is heavily damaging to your eyes. 
  • As you already know, both visible and UV lights can be damaging to the eyes. Hence, always wear sunglasses whenever you go out.
  • To prevent eye surgeries, you much wear protective eyewear. This is applicable to when you play certain sports, work in a factory, or do repair work, where your eyes can be prone to injuries.

Apart from all of these, you must give your eyes the much-needed break, especially from screens. Set a screen limit, do eye exercises, and do activities that give you time off screens. Also, you must sleep for 7-8 hours daily to give yourself, your brain, and your eyes a rest.