NEW YORK—As the world prepares to mark World Sight Day, Oct. 12 this week, a photo exhibition 2030 IN SIGHT, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Friends of Vision and organized by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is being displayed at the United Nations between Oct. 9 - 20. It highlights that accessible, available, and affordable eye health is essential to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, in strengthening the delivery of eyecare within Universal Health Coverage, has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people globally.

2030 IN SIGHT presents the world through the eyes of those living with avoidable sight loss and invites individuals to consider the direct implications avoidable and treatable eye health conditions have on individuals, their communities, and on accelerating progress toward the SDGs. Each image focuses on a different SDG that relates to eye health, with several of the images being ‘blurred’ to mirror how they would be viewed by people with treatable eye conditions, for example, untreated cataract, untreated glaucoma, or untreated myopia.

The exhibition, supported by World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Friends of Vision group and organized by the IAPB, will hang in the corridors of the UN for ambassadors and diplomats to view and be inspired to include eyecare in national health plans and essential packages of care as part of their country’s journey towards universal health coverage.

This year’s World Sight Day focuses on #LoveYourEyesatWork, a theme with a global concentration on eye health and the world of work. The exhibition at the UN references the theme, with two of the featured images focusing on SDG #8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. The theme acts as an important reminder to all those focused on achieving the SDGs that quality eyecare will improve workplace safety, productivity, and a person's earning potential.

The exhibition serves as a crucial component in elevating awareness about eye health at the United Nations and echoes a recent call by 70 member states to the UN Secretary-General to appoint a Special Envoy on Vision to be a global champion, to mobilize action from international institutions and galvanize work happening at a national level, IAPB pointed out.

The exhibition follows a meeting of world leaders, ‘The Value of Vision’, held in New York at the margins of the UN General Assembly last month, as VMAIL reported. Leaders heard that unaddressed poor sight costs the global economy $411 billion in lost productivity each year and impedes a states’ ability to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities.

H.E Ambassador Walton Webson, permanent representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and UN Friends of Vision Group founder and co-chair, said "2030 IN SIGHT, is a powerful interpretation of the central messages and recommendations in the UN Resolution. The images allow us to see the world through someone else's eyes and to consider the implications avoidable and treatable eye health conditions have for ending extreme poverty and hunger, accessing education and decent work, and reducing inequalities."

Professor Jerome Salomon, Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases of the WHO said, “This dynamic exhibition comes at a moment when the need for eye care is set to surge in the coming years. Without action, it is estimated that by 2050 half the global population could be living with a near or distance vision impairment. Every country must work towards universal eye health coverage, to meet the growing need, strengthen our health systems and reduce inequalities within and among countries.”

President of IAPB Caroline Casey concluded,“2030 IN SIGHT is a photo exhibition that challenges viewers to consider the impact of eye health on development outcomes. The collection has been curated to highlight the critical need for available, accessible, and affordable eye health for all by 2030. It is a powerful interpretation of perspective.”

The UN Friends of Vision group aims to advance the issue of eye health within the context of the SDGs, to raise its profile on the international agenda, and to share knowledge from the sector with and among Member States.

The UN Friends of Vision Group is supported by IAPB as the Chair of the Secretariat and made up of the following organizations: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), The Vision Council, VisionSpring, Sightsavers, CBM International, SEVA Foundation, The World Health Organization (WHO), HCP Cure Blindness, SightLife, The Fred Hollows Foundation and Restoring Vision.

World Sight Day is supported by IAPB World Sight Day Partners, including Abbvie, Bayer, CBM, Horizon, Hoya, Johnson & Johnson Vision, National Vision, Novartis, Roche, and Seve Foundation and thousands of other eyecare professionals around the world.