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Vision Community Unites to Recognize World Sight Day 2009

Left to right: AEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky joined moderator Louis Pizzarello, M.D., M.P.H., (Columbia University) and speaker Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., (NIH/Office of Research on Women’s Health)
Left to right: AEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky joined moderator Louis Pizzarello, M.D., M.P.H., (Columbia University) and speaker Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., (NIH/Office of Research on Women’s Health)
AEVR joined its fellow vision organizations in co-sponsoring a first-ever World Sight Day (WSD) briefing on Capitol Hill, presented by Vision 2020/USA, a program of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). Held the second Thursday of each October, WSD focuses global attention on blindness and vision impairment. For example, about 314 million people around the world are visually impaired, and 45 million of them are blind. Louis Pizzarello, M.D., M.P.H., (Columbia University), who serves as Chairman of Vision 2020/USA and the immediate-past Secretary General of IAPB, welcomed attendees and cited additional statistics, noting that: blindness/vision impairment is the sixth leading cause of disabilities in the United States; that 80 percent of vision loss is preventable; and that blindness prevention and treatment has an unparalleled economic payoff. Dr. Pizzarello highlighted the inordinate burden of blindness in developing countries, where vision-related problems account for 25 percent of all visits to clinics.

Vision 2020/USA unites 36 organizations dedicated to preventing blindness and assisting those with vision loss and has representation from every state and the District of Columbia. AEVR was pleased to join other vision organizations co-sponsoring this event, which included:

American Optometric Association (AOA)
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology-Johns Hopkins
Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA)
Helen Keller International
International Eye Foundation
Lighthouse International
Optometry Giving Sight
Prevent Blindness America (PBA)
Seva Foundation
Vision Spring
Women’s Eye Health.org
WSD 2009, which was also recognized in a statement made by National Eye Institute (NEI) Director Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph.D, had the theme of Gender Equity in Eye Care and Blindness Prevention, which was addressed by Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., Deputy Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health in the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Clayton is uniquely qualified to address vision issues, since she is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has served as an attending physician and clinical investigator in cornea and uveitis at the NEI since 1996. Dr. Clayton emphasized that women experience an excess burden of visual impairment worldwide due to many reasons, including: sex and gender effects on ocular disease; health states and diseases unique to women; socioeconomic issues, especially access to eye care; and aging. She cited a number of dramatic statistics, including that: nearly two-thirds of blind individuals worldwide are women and girls; in many countries, men have twice the access to eye care as women; and equal access to eye care could substantially reduce blindness in poor countries.

Dr. Clayton was joined by Jennifer Klein, a Senior Advisor on Global Women’s Issues in the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the Department of State, who described current efforts by the Obama Administration.

Cong. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Cong. Gene Green (D-TX) welcomed attendees and stressed the importance of blindness prevention. This event was held just two weeks after AEVR’s Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative sponsored a Congressional briefing recognizing International Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Week 2009.

Cong. Tim Bishop (D-NY) offered a welcome and talked about event sponsors their dedication to blindness prevention.
Cong. Tim Bishop (D-NY) offered a welcome and talked about the event sponsors' dedication to blindness prevention
James Jorkasky with Cong. Gene Green (D-TX), co-chair of the Congressional Vision Caucus, who welcomed attendees
James Jorkasky with Cong. Gene Green (D-TX), co-chair of the Congressional Vision Caucus, who welcomed attendees
Left to right: Mark Ackermann and Cynthia Stuen, Ph.D., (Lighthouse International) joined Cathy Cohen (American Academy of Ophthalmology) in discussions
Left to right: Mark Ackermann and Cynthia Stuen, Ph.D., (Lighthouse International) joined Cathy Cohen (American Academy of Ophthalmology) in discussions
Representatives from the sponsoring organizations
Representatives from the sponsoring organizations