Dear Seva Canada Supporters,

For those of us interested or involved in the global fight against blindness, 2020 is an important year. This is the year when the main causes of preventable and treatable blindness were to have been eliminated. In 1999, VISION 2020 was launched by the World Health Organization and over 20 non-government organizations, including Seva Canada, dedicated themselves to the prevention and management of blindness.

Worldwide, we haven’t done what we hoped we would. Why not? There are many competing priorities in health and a lack of understanding of poor vision’s impact on people’s broader socioeconomic outcomes. Poor vision can have a deep impact on education and work opportunities, but its urgency is overshadowed by infectious diseases, natural disasters, famine, and political instability. Even in situations where relevant government ministries understand the importance of eye care and are eager to address it, they are often faced with questions on what to do, where to start, and how to increase access to eye care services. It’s not as simple as giving away free glasses or flying in foreigners to do surgery. Health interventions require substantial local investment in infrastructure, training and population-level behavior change.

While some countries have almost reached VISION 2020’s goal, most have not. Eye care organizations have made enormous gains in the fight against blindness and visual impairment. People living in remote and rural area have far greater access to high-quality eye care and the focus on reaching women and girls has lessened the gender disparity in the treatment of blindness. 

We are clearly moving in the right direction with high-quality, financially sustainable eye care services provided by locally trained professionals. However, if we are to achieve our goal of a world free of avoidable blindness, we must accelerate expansion of successful eye care programs to meet population needs and take better advantage of government health systems, albeit often very poorly funded in most low-income settings. More and more, we need to introduce local funding innovations for revenue generation while still serving the poor. Only then will preventable and treatable blindness be eradicated.

Penny Lyons,

Executive Director

Seva Canada

Sight Stories and News

  • Seva Canada Backs Call for Canadian Government to Increase Equitable Access to Eye Care as Recommended by the WHO's 1st World Report on Vision

    Vancouver-based eye care charity, Seva Canada, co-hosted the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first World Report on Vision in Canada on June 26, 2020. The current cost of vision loss to Canadians is $19 billion/year and affects all elements of our economy. Costs are expected to rise to $30.3 billion/year by 2032 with the overall single largest indirect cost being lost productivity.

    Press release | June 25th, 2020
  • Will Cataracts Stop Ork from Seeing the World Again?

    Unfortunately, over the last three years, Ork Lay’s vision deteriorated making it hard for her to take care of herself and her grandchildren. Ork Lay felt like a terrible burden and worried about her daughter who would have to care for her and no longer be able to earn an income to support the family.

    Sight stories | June 12th, 2020
  • Give the Gift of Sight this Father's Day!

    “I will be so happy if my father can see. Thank you Seva for your good deed. I hope my father lives forever.” Kebe’s daughter This Father's Day, make dreams come true and give the gift of sight in honour of the father's in your life!

    Blog | June 1st, 2020