OVER one billion people worldwide live with some form of vision impairment.

, just because they do not get the care they need for conditions like short- and far-sightedness, glaucoma and cataract.

This according to the first World report on vision, issued by the World Health Organisation.

On World Sight Day, celebrated on 10 October, people are encouraged to take care of their eyesight. This year’s theme was “Vision First!”.

and Novartis told SunHealth it was not only promoting your eye health, but also raising awareness about the importance of good vision.

Dr Christos Nathaniel, Therapeutic Area head for Specialty Care, Medical at Novartis, said among many things people tend to ignore, eyesight ranks high.

Said Dr Nathaniel: “The earlier an eye disease is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated. Preventive eye care is the first line of defence against vision problems.

“Early detection offers effective treatment options that will help you avoid any further damage to your eyes.”

He said people wait for the problem to occur before they visit an optometrist.

According to Dr Nathaniel, it is important to keep our eyes healthy by protecting them and reducing the odds of blindness and loss of vision.

He said Novartis was planning eye screening and support programmes to help increase access to eye care facilities for patients.

He said the main focus would be on disadvantaged schools.

“One of the best ways to raise awareness is getting educated on vision facts and spreading the word.”

He said most causes of blindness, including glaucoma, cataract and age-related marcular degenaretion, were reverseable.

“By having your eyes checked regularly, the odds of avoiding any serious vision impairment vastly improve,” he said.

How to keep your eyes in good health:) Maintain a healthy, balanced diet throughout the year.) Have periodical eye exams (every two to three years for healthy patients under 50 years of age and yearly for patients over 50 or those with known health risk factors).) Acknowledge any vision-based symptoms and see a specialist as soon as possible.) Know your family history for any eye problems.) Exercise regularly, even if it’s only a moderate walk.) Wear sunglasses if you’ll be exposed to long bouts of bright sunshine. The value in protecting your eyes from UV can’t be measured.) Quit smoking.