Celebrities in support of World Sight Day – Frankie Adams, Carly Flynn and Renee Wright
Kiwi celebrities throughout New Zealand have added their voice to an international bid to raise awareness for eye health.
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.
The Raise the Flag initiative by leading lens manufacturer Essilor NZ also includes the launch of a Facebook page dedicated to raising awareness of eye health in New Zealand.
Kiwi television presenters Carly Flynn and Renee Wright alongside Shortland Street actress Frankie Adams, have posted images of themselves on their Facebook pages raising a flag to support the international campaign. Each post carries the #bettersightbetterlife hashtag, which other Kiwis can also use to help raise local awareness.
Mum-of-two Carly Flynn was just eight years old when she was prescribed glasses, after her parents noticed her squinting frequently. “To this day I still remember that moment when I put my glasses on and saw what other people saw,” she says. “I couldn’t believe the detail and beauty of everything around me.” Fast forward 12 years and Carly opted for Lasik Eye surgery which means that today she only wears glasses occasionally.“Being someone who once had very poor eyesight, I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have improved vision, and to this day I never take my, nor my family’s eye health for granted”.
Optometrist and Essilor NZ general manager Thomas Martin says that most of us aren't aware of the impact of eye health issues on our society.
“Poor eye health has a significant impact on our daily lives – it’s believed nearly 60% of traffic accidents internationally may be related to poor vision, and one in three workers in the world is living with an uncorrected vision problem,” says Martin.
It’s also estimated poor vision costs the world US$1 billion in lost productivity every day, despite 80% of sight problems being preventable with expert diagnosis and treatment.
“I’ve seen first-hand the effects of poor eyesight on family members and the day to day struggle they have to do things that I totally take for granted, so I am very aware of how important it is to take care of your eyesight”, says Adams. “The simplest things can become incredibly difficult if you have limited vision.”
“As with any area of health, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to looking after your vision,” says Wright. “Seeing a professional for regular check-ups not only allows the best chance+ to correct any potential problems, but also provides you and your family peace of mind.”
Martin hopes the Raise the Flag initiative encourages Kiwis to get their eye health checked, particularly if they are over the age of 40, as the risk of eye disease including glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increases three-fold at this point in life.
“A thorough eye exam can identify any vision problems you may be unaware of, as well as diagnose diabetes, raised blood pressure and cancer, so it’s important to do, not just for your sight but for your general health as well.”
Essilor NZ has set up a donation page at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/visionforlife where Kiwis can donate and raise money for Macular Degeneration New Zealand on World Sight Day (October 9).