‘Work together in fight for sight’

National 2 minutes, 27 seconds


SUPPORT from family members, friends and peers can help strengthen and improve the lives of the visually impaired, said the vice president of the Brunei Darussalam National Association of the Blind (BDNAB).

“This (applies) particularly to those who (are recently diagnosed with it) — they may feel sad that it has happened to them. This is why support is important,” said Muhammad Hamzi Omar.

He said this includes support from other visually impaired individuals who can share their advice and experiences.

“If we support each other and work together, we can be stronger together.”

Muhammad Hamzi said this is relevant to this year’s World Sight Day theme of ‘Stronger Together’.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on October 13.

The international agency for the prevention of blindness (IAPB) works to raise public awareness on blindness and vision impairment as major international public health issues.

This includes influencing governments and ministries of health to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes, as well as educating target audiences about blindness prevention, about Vision 2020 and to generate support for activities under the Vision 2020 programme.

Vision 2020 was launched in 1999. It is a global initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the IAPB to eliminate avoidable blindness.

Muhammad Hamzi said the BDNAB will be organising a workshop in the upcoming months in conjunction with World Sight Day.

The workshop will deliver and disseminate information about the importance of eyecare and leading a healthy lifestyle to students.

He said the association will work together with relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) to organise the workshop.

“One of the things that will be discussed in the workshop is the dangers of diabetes and glaucoma... which can affect an individual’s eyesight.”

He said being visually impaired does not stop the individual from performing tasks and hopes more people will realise this and give them job opportunities.

“We want the public to know that the visually impaired can be independent and work like everyone else.

“We also want others to take care of their eyes by going to the doctors immediately if something is wrong and also to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating moderately.”

The vice president also hoped more facilities will be provided for the visually impaired.

“This is to enable them to become more independent. For example, in restaurants where they can provide Braille menus.”

According to the IAPB website, approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness.

“Of these, 39 million are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment.”

The website also states that 90 per cent of blind people live in low-income countries and that 80 per cent of visual impairment is avoidable — readily treatable and/or preventable.

It added that an estimated 19 million children worldwide are visually impaired and that about 65 per cent of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older.

The Brunei Times