75% of World Blindness is Preventable
ORBIS Public Service Announcement Draws Attention to Global Disparities in Eye Care
NEW YORK, January 23, 2007 / PRNewswire / - ORBIS International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide, released today a new public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness among Americans that most blindness â both here and aboard â is preventable for those with access to quality eye care services.
"Imagine watching helplessly as your child went blind or as your own vision slowly disappeared. What if it could be prevented?" asks Bob Costas, narrator of the PSA and host of HBO's Inside the NFL and Costas Now. "I'm pleased to support ORBIS in their mission to bring sight-saving education and training to medical staff around the world. There are few gifts more precious than the gift of sight."
The World Health Organization estimates that 37 million people are blind worldwide, and an additional 124 million have vision so poor that routine activities become impossible. Yet an estimated 75 percent of those suffering do not have to be blind.
"The medical and scientific knowledge to cure or prevent more than half of all cases of blindness already exists and is routinely available in developed counties such as the United States. The challenge is to make it available in developing countries, along with the delivery systems, education, awareness and priority-setting necessary to eliminate or drastically reduce the risk," said Dr. Eugene M. Helveston, ORBIS ophthalmologist-in-chief. "That's where ORBIS steps in. Our goal is to ensure that the skills and technology exist where they are needed most."
Since 1982, ORBIS volunteers and staff have restored the vision and transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in more than 85 countries. At the same time, ORBIS has been building local capacity to provide eye care in those countries by training more than 120,000 eye care professionals aboard the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, in local hospitals, with ORBIS telemedicine (Cyber-Sight), and through long-term national blindness prevention programs in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam.
The PSA was produced by Victor/Harder Productions with creative, writing and production services donated by Fran Victor and Bill Harder and music donated by Dan Yessian of Yessian Music.