Illustrative photo. (Source: vov.vn)

The Hanoi-based Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) held a meeting in response to the World Sight Day themed “Eye Care for All” on October 8.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 314 million people are suffering from blindness and visual impairments worldwide, 90 percent of whom live in poor and developing countries, including Vietnam.

However, the organisation said, 80 percent of visual impairments can be prevented or cured.

Cataract remains the leading cause of visual impairments in all areas of the world, except for developed countries while other main causes are glaucoma, aged-related macular degeneration, corneal opacities, diabetic retinopathy, childhood blindness, trachoma and onchocerciasis.

The VNIO reported that 409,000 Vietnamese people are suffering from blindness with one third of them being the poor who are unable to afford treatment.

Of note, 83 percent of visual impairments in Vietnam are preventable or curable, the institute said.

According to the institute, about 10-15 percent of students in rural areas and up to 40 percent of those in urban areas of Vietnam are living with refractive errors.

Given this, ophthalmological doctors suggested people have regular eye check-ups every six months and avoid self-medication.

Looking towards the VISION 2020, Vietnam is striving to eradicate trachoma by 2015, conduct 250,000 cataract surgeries each year and reduce the prevalence of blindness among the population to less than 0.3 percent in 2020, said Associate Prof. and Dr. Tran An, VNIO Deputy Director.

In response to the 2015 World Sight Day, the institute offered free eye check-ups to the poor and social policy beneficiaries on October 8.

From October 8-10, the institute plans to conduct 100 free eye surgeries in Tan Yen district, the northern province of Bac Giang.-VNA