Promotion of Integrated People-centered Eye Care and highlighting the need for an international approach to eye care initiatives is this year’s World Optometry Week topic.
For this year’s World Optometry Week celebration from March 17-23, the World Council of Optometry (WCO) is taking on the theme “Advancing Optometry’s Commitment to Global Eye Care.”
For a week, WCO said in a news release that it will work to highlight ongoing work done by optometrists on an international scale, in addition to promoting the Integrated People-centered Eye Care (IPEC) approach and its implementation for all countries’ health systems. The integration of IPEC was previously recommended by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2019 World Report on Vision.1
“As we approach World Optometry Week 2024, I am encouraged to see how optometry as a profession is embracing the need to address the large burden of preventable vision impairment,” said WCO president, Sandra Block, OD, MEd, MPH, FAAO, FCOVD. “We continue to educate our patients as well as stakeholders who understand the importance of access to quality eye care. Optometry has taken a leadership role in addressing the many challenges.”
Other key points of interest recommended in the 2019 World Report on Vision were mainstreaming eye care into universal health coverage, promoting high-quality implementation and research that complements existing evidence for eye care interventions, monitor trends and evaluate progress concerning IPEC efforts, and raising awareness about eye care needs.2
In order to work towards implementing IPEC, the report also recommends reorienting care models to prioritize primary and community health services, working with governments and their sectors, ie education, labor, and finance, and strengthening the eye care workforce and government leadership through plans and policies.
These efforts are to combat the growth concern of eye health on a global scale. Those who experience vision impairment are up to 2.6 times more at risk of mortality, and more likely to suffer from various physical and mental health conditions. A vast majority (90%) of unaddressed blindness and vision impairment is experienced by people living in low- and middle-income countries. Over half of women and girls, as well as 74% of older people over 50 years old, are also significantly affected by vision impairment. People with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees, and migrants are also among some of the most affected. IPEC efforts are intended to take geographical accessibility and cultural and socioeconomic inequities into account when vying for better global eye care services and resources.
The report also states that focusing on coverage the eye care coverage gap in the global health systems can lead to a substantial return on investment. While the additional cost of addressing refractive error and cataract cases is estimated at $24.8 billion, the global economy would $411 billion a year in productivity.
To help eye care providers celebrate World Optometry Week, a social media resources page is available for social media purposes. WCO also encourages eye care providers to share how their organizations are celebrating the week by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A toolkit and several templates are available for eye care providers who wish to learn more about IPEC and its implementation.