Sight Saving Month has come to an end, and the National Committee for Sight Preservation (NCSP) and its eye health partners are renewing their commitment to collaboratively lower the percentage of preventable blindness.
The Philippines’ Eye Health Situation
According to the 2018 Philippine Eye Disease Study, cataract remains the leading cause of vision impairment in the Philippines, affecting about one million individuals and necessitating cataract surgery in around 300,000 people. When compared to the 2002 Philippine National Survey of Blindness, the prevalence of blindness has decreased by 11%, which could be due to the DOH’s and eye health partners’ implementation of blindness prevention and sight preservation programs.
Furthermore, respondents reported being generally unhappy with their eye health in a recent NCSP rapid assessment online survey, which provides a cursory overview of Filipinos’ knowledge, attitudes, and practice on eye health and sight preservation. Sight deterioration and blurry vision were cited as common complaints.
According to NCSP Chairperson Dr. Noel Chua, not many individuals are aware that their eyes, like any other part of the body, require active health care. Stakeholders in the field of eye health are concerned that the current pandemic may have exacerbated the population’s eye issues.
Taking steps to improve eye health in the future
The Department of Health is in charge of implementing Universal Health Care and the National Blindness Prevention Program across the country. Our government hospitals and health facilities are equipped to manage and treat eye impairment while adhering to our health guidelines, thanks to the Department of Health.
“Patients are encouraged to use eye health services provided by government health facilities. Dr. Chua stated, “The NCSP, in collaboration with our partners, is committed to increasing eye screening, detecting visual impairments, and offering treatment.”
In closing the Sight Saving Month, NCSP, an umbrella organization of agencies involved in the prevention of blindness in the Philippines, and a partner of the Department of Health (DOH) in the implementation of the National Prevention of Blindness Program (PBP) for almost 25 years, commits to continue supporting PBP initiatives and aligning its interventions within the framework of the Universal Health Programme.
Following the successful launch of NCSP’s social media page “Maging MATAlino: Magpa-tsekap. Now Na.” on Facebook on August 1, 2021, NCSP and its partners aimed to continue promoting good eye health habits and sight preservation practices among Filipinos by sharing how they can take care of their eyesight despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions. NCSP’s collaboration with Novartis made this endeavor possible.
Through the Collaboration to Preserve Sight, Novartis, a private-sector advocate for eye health, expressed their delight to collaborate with eye health partners such as the Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF), Vitreo Retina Society of the Philippines (VRSP), and the NCSP.