NEW YORK—Last Friday the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution A/75/L108 committing the international community to eyecare for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss by 2030. Sight loss is calculated to cost the global economy $411 billion in productivity each year. The resolution is a milestone and the first agreement designed to tackle  preventable sight loss to be adopted by the United Nations and enshrines eye health as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It was passed  unanimously by all 193 countries of the United Nations. It sets a target for vision for everyone by 2030, with countries set to ensure full access to eyecare services for their populations, and to make eye health part of their nation’s journey to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The resolution creates new expectations for international financial institutions and donors to provide targeted finances, especially to support developing countries in tackling preventable sight loss. And for the United Nations to incorporate eye health into its work, including through UNICEF and UN-Women. The resolution calls for new targets on eyecare to be included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at its next review.

The resolution was supported by members of the UN Friends of Vision Group and representatives of several countries, and many other organizations and companies, all of whom expressed their excitement about the resolution's passing. But campaigners emphasized that governments and international institutions must act now to fulfill their new commitments.

  • H.E. Ambassador Aubrey Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, and founding co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision group said, “An eye test for a child can be the difference between inclusion and exclusion; A pair of prescription glasses, the difference between access to information and seeking a livelihood and not. Corrective eye treatment, the difference between improved sight and total loss of sight. The gift of sight for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss is within reach if we ensure world leaders deliver on this moment.”

  • H.E Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and co-chair of the Friends of Vision, said, “The adoption of today’s resolution on vision is a watershed moment in global efforts for vision care. We were honored and pleased to lead this resolution together with fellow Friends of Vision Co-Chairs, Antigua and Barbuda and Ireland.1.1 billion people live with preventable sight loss. Preventable sight loss is a global challenge that needs a global solution—and that is what we have agreed today. What we agreed today will make a world of a difference to the lives of billions and their families and communities.”

  • H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, member of the UN Security Council and co-chair of the Friends of Vision said, "If we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on gender equality then we must acknowledge that a lack of access to eyecare has a disproportionate impact on women and girls. This can have devastating consequences on girls’ educations, not to mention the participation of women in the workforce, poverty, child marriage, and the role of women in safeguarding the health and education of their own children. The United Nations Friends of Vision group is delighted to have the support of the UN Secretary General in the pursuit of eyecare for all. We look forward to working with others across the United Nations to implement the resolution.”

  • Peter Holland, CEO of IAPB, said, “The eye health sector has believed for a long time that quality eye health is critical to the world achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and this resolution is testament to a lot of hard work. We are delighted that the resolution was passed unanimously and would like to thank all the countries that co-sponsored the resolution, especially the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland and Bangladesh for their leadership on eye health at the United Nations and around the world."

  • Daniel McBride, president of CooperVision, said, “This is a landmark development by the United Nations General Assembly, clearly defining the need for treating vision impairments and preventing future sight loss worldwide. In becoming a global patron of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness last year, we believed the organization had the capacity to advance universal access to eye health—including bringing greater awareness and action to the growing prevalence and severity of myopia in children. IAPB’s role in this momentous resolution, which is also aligned with CooperCompanies’ support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, deserves applause from across the entire eyecare spectrum. It’s up to all of us to help fulfill what the agreement sets out—industry, practitioners, institutions and governments alike.”

  • Philanthropist James Chen commented, "Today is a historic moment for the 2.2 billion people around the world living without access to the eyecare they need. [This] is a milestone. I am incredibly grateful to my Clearly campaign and the UN Friends of Vision Group for driving this achievement, after a long journey of collaboration with the vision sector, world governments and leading businesses."

  • Paul Folkesson, World Council of Optometry (WCO) president, said, “The World Council of Optometry is pleased that this important Resolution has passed unanimously. Thank you to all involved in the development and acceptance of this significant resolution. It is critical that governments understand the necessity of including eye health in their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level. WCO will continue to work with our country members to encourage them to enact this resolution as we work towards quality eyecare for all.” 
  • Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council, member of The United Nations Friends of Vision, said,"“The Vision Council is proud to serve as one of the leading organizations in the Friends of Vision Coalition. This is an incredible moment to work on behalf of vision as an issue, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners at the Friends of Vision to build a proactive platform for vision, which we know has an incredible impact on many fronts, from employment and equity to education.”

  • K.T. Overbey, president and executive director, OneSight, stated, "For more than 30 years, OneSight has worked toward creating a world where access to vision care is no longer a barrier to human achievement and potential...The adoption of this resolution is truly a pivotal moment for the expansion of vision care access globally, and we feel so fortunate that the critical importance of clear sight is being recognized on such a large scale.”

  • Prevent Blindness, an IAPB member, sent a letter from CEO Jeff Todd to the honorable Linda Thomas Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, stating, “We know far too well that we exist in a global community and have a duty to bring our voice to bear in advocating for vision and eye health for our neighbors across the world.  We urge the U.S. to lead on this vital aspect of global health, and move to ensure its passage.”