World Health Organization to Discuss its Landmark World Vision Report at Academy Meeting in Orlando

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ORLANDO—Next week’s American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and World Council of Optometry meetings here in Orlando will feature a plenary discussion of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first-ever world report on vision, according to an AAO announcement yesterday. The plenary session is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday (Oct. 23) and will feature leaders from both WHO and AAO. WHO’s comprehensive report, which identifies “significant challenges” in vision health on a global basis, was released last week in conjunction with World Sight Day, as VMAIL reported

The Academy 2019 meeting and 3rd World Congress of Optometry run concurrently from Oct. 23 through Oct. 27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

The World report on vision says 2.2 billion people have some form of vision impairment, of whom 1 billion have an impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. The report anticipates an increase in those numbers over the next few years and calls for stakeholders, including eyecare practitioners and policymakers, to help shape a global agenda on vision to help stem the crisis.

“Optometrists and all of the disciplines within vision care have the skills and opportunity to bring about profound change around the world,” AAO board president Dr. Barbara Caffery said in the announcement, noting that she believes the report will be crucial in uniting the entire vision health community to address the problem. “We believe this report will galvanize the issue and trigger a coordinated effort. At AAO, we are ready to step up and fight this battle.”

The WHO report identifies universal vision coverage, standardization of practice methods and a global disparity in quality of care among a series of barriers to worldwide vision care improvement.

“The American Academy of Optometry is in a unique position to help educate and train the work force that can solve this problem,” Caffery added. “We will also help push for the standardization of care while we advance the inclusion of optometry into standard practice where it is not currently recognized. AAO is ready to put the full weight of our organization behind this global effort.”

Academy 2019 is expected to draw more than 8,000 optometrists, ophthalmologists, vision care professionals, students and support personnel next week, and WHO's report on vision “will be a defining topic throughout,” AAO said in its announcement.

In addition, AAO said that over the coming months it will hold discussions and develop strategies to raise awareness and address the findings of the WHO report while defining a path for members to share their talents. “We have the ability to affect significant change for vision-impaired people around the world and we are committed to doing it,” Caffery said.