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Fall 2013 Voyagers and Semester at Sea Support World Sight Day
Today, October 10, is World Sight Day. For Semester at Sea students, faculty and lifelong learners it is a day to showcase their support of ensuring that people around the world have the opportunity for improved visual care.
The day is also a chance for the Fall 2013 voyage’s shipboard community to support TOMS eyewear and the company’s One for One™ Giving model of helping improve people’s vision in developing countries around the world.
“Vision is something that a lot of people take for granted,” says Megan Schuck, Outreach Coordinator on this 50th anniversary voyage. “What TOMS does really impacts these people’s lives for the better. They really will see the world in a whole different way.”
So, what is World Sight Day and why is it important?
World Sight Day is a global initiative started in 2000 by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to raise awareness about the causes of blindness and vision impairment worldwide, but especially in developing countries. It takes place every year on the second Thursday in October with a specific theme. This year’s theme is healthy eyes and each person is urged to have their eyes tested.
Here are a few facts about the issue :
- 285 million people are visually impaired or blind.
- 80% of visual impairment worldwide can be cured or prevented.
- 9 out of 10 people with visual impairment live in developing countries.
- Sight for Economic Opportunity: Individuals with vision loss often have to give up their jobs or other income generating activities.
- Sight for Education: Over 12 million children worldwide have visual impairment that can be cured with glasses.
- Sight for Gender Equality: 2/3 of people who are blind are female.
- Sight for Independence: With restored vision, people can go to work, help at home, walk independently, and rejoin their communities.
TOMS is working with vision programs in 13 countries around the world to provide preventative and restorative visual care. Semester at Sea is partnering with the TOMS Campus Programs to support both World Sight Day and TOMS’ One for One ™ shoe giving model.
Though the extent of visual impairment worldwide is staggering, the treatment provided to people in developing countries is encouraging. As people’s sight is improved, their opportunities for work and their improvement in school increase.
“I’ve worked with a lot of low-income children, without access to regular vision testing, whose teachers thought they were slow because they couldn’t read,” says Nancy Seldin, one of the psychologists on the Fall 2013 voyage and a marriage, family and child counselor in Missoula, Montana.
She continues: “It turns out that the kids weren’t slow at all, they just couldn’t see and needed glasses.”