To raise public awareness of global visual impairment issues, the World Health Organization (WHO) and over 100 international sight-saving institutions including ORBIS have scheduled the second Thursday of each October as “World Sight Day” (WSD). As a truly international sight-saving organization, ORBIS is using WSD 2013 to focus attention on Glaucoma, known by many as “The Thief of Sight”. Hong Kong’s leading cause of blindness, Glaucoma causes many people to begin worrying about how their daily lives might change should they go blind. Stressed out and emotionally unstable, sufferers often take medicine improperly, causing their eye pressure to rise and the disease to worsen as a result.
Speaking at the award ceremony for ORBIS’ 2013 WSD Pin campaign, Dr. Vincent Lee, President of the Hong Kong Ophthalmological Society, reminded attendees that Glaucoma is an incurable condition. For this reason, patients diagnosed with the disease should immediately seek initial medical care and be prepared for a lifetime’s treatment.
“Each year, some 20% of all cases of blindness locally are caused by Glaucoma. According to the latest statistics, we estimate about 2% of all Hongkongers are already either patients or simply do not know that they are sufferers. Therefore, it’s vital that people pay more attention to Glaucoma’s prevention, diagnosis and treatment”, said Dr. Lee.
“ As undiagnosed Glaucoma sufferers rarely observe any symptoms in the condition’s early or middle stages, the disease is often called “the Thief of Sight”. To assess their level of risk, people should have their visual acuity, visual field, eye pressure, optic nerves and retinal nerve fiber layer examined and monitored by ophthalmologists. This is especially true of high-risk groups such as people with a family history of Glaucoma, the elderly, sufferers from high blood pressure or diabetes, the severely short-sighted and those whose eyes have eye injury and who has history of steroid treatment.
The primary goal of the several major forms of Glaucoma treatment is to preserve as much of patients’ sight as possible by better controlling eye pressure and stabilizing remaining optic nerve tissues. In doing so, doctors may opt to apply eye drops or conduct laser or other surgery according to each patients’ condition. Ultimately, by staying optimistic and seeking treatment early, even those developing Glaucoma can greatly reduce their risk of going totally blind,” Dr. Lee concluded.
Annie Lau, ORBIS World Sight Day Ambassador, attended the event and reminded the public the importance of having regular eye checks to diagnose glaucoma and prevent sight loss. Other VIP guests at ORBIS’ 2013 WSD rally included two long-term Glaucoma sufferers who have lived with the disease for 6 and 20 years respectively. Each generously shared how stamina and patience were vital weapons in the war on the disease. “Though Glaucoma is incurable, following your doctor’s advice about regularly checking your eyes, seeking appropriate treatment, having a balanced diet and taking plenty of exercise means further sight loss can be stopped. Stay confident and you can keep your remaining vision, even it is only partial!”, said Ho Wing-Luen, who has just 10% of sight left after suffering from Glaucoma since 1993.
The theme of 2013 WSD was “Darkness to Go” and was designed to encourage different parties, institutions, schools and the general public to wear ORBIS pins to show their concern over visual impairment worldwide. Over 20,000 people from over 300 corporates and schools have supported this year’s campaign since its June 2013 start, helped us raise over HK$3,700,000 for the needlessly blind. “We are delighted by the high-level of support that 2013 WSD has received across every sector of society. To date, some 39,000,000 people worldwide are blind and only by working together can we restore their sight. In most poorer countries, visual impairment not only damages individuals, but also their families and the productivity of society as a whole. In such nations, the needlessly sightless frequently lead tragic lives purely because their governments cannot afford adequate medical resources.
“Sadly, not even here in Hong Kong where medical skills and systems are world class can eye illnesses be avoided. As a result, ourselves and our supporters passionately believe that we should all help bring light and hope to the blind by fighting darkness together”, said Mary Lau, development director of ORBIS Hong Kong.
WSD 2013 Roll of Honour
Top Five Fundraising Organizations
Champion : Collyer Logistics International Limited
1st Runner-up : Inland Revenue Department Sports Association
2nd Runner-up : Sunny Creations Limited
3rd Runner-up : Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited
4th Runner-up : Optical 88 Ltd.
Top Five Organizations with the Most Participants
Champion : Inland Revenue Department Sports Association
1st Runner-up : Optical 88 Ltd.
2nd Runner-up : Building Department
3rd Runner-up : Canon Hong Kong Company Limited
4th Runner-up : Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Limited