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Pandemic Puts Millions at Risk of Blindness, Optometrist Says

COVID-19 is interfering with eyecare services worldwide.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is interfering with the provision of eyecare services worldwide, putting many people at risk for blindness, a public health optometrist writes.

“A large number of vision programmes have been temporarily suspended, including mobile eye-screening exercises and non-emergency surgeries, in an attempt to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both patients and health workers,” says Princess Ifeoma Ike, public health optometrist and CEO of Princess Vision Eye Clinic Limited Abuja, Nigeria and Global Shaper, Abuja Hub. She shared her views in an opinion piece published on the World Economic Forum website.

Ike notes that the Vision 2020 Right to Sight global initiative “cannot now be attained as had been hoped, as people living in underserved regions who relied on outreach services are going to be the most affected.”

The initiative, a joint program of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, sought to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.

Ike adds that the COVID-19 crisis “is not just a challenge for health systems” but also “a socio-economic burden, because the gap in eye care impacts everything from education and personal mobility to road safety and prospects for employment.”

“This is why our current reality should not inhibit our ability to generate a new paradigm for infrastructure, distribution of eye care providers and eye care settings.”

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