News Releases

UWI to host Public Health Lecture on World Sight Day

For Release Upon Receipt - October 8, 2010

St. Augustine

The link between blindness and poverty is coming into plain view. Seventy-five per cent of the world's blindness is avoidable, either treatable or preventable, and ninety per cent of avoidable blindness occurs in the developing world. People in developing countries are ten times more likely to be blind or visually impaired than those in the developed world.

In celebration of World Sight Day, Thursday 14th October, 2010, the Trinidad and Tobago Optometrists Association (TTOA), in collaboration with the Caribbean Optometrists Association (CARIOA) and The University of the West Indies (UWI) Optometry programme under the Faculty of Science and Agriculture and the Faculty of  Medical Science, will host a public lecture addressing these and other related issues.

Prof. Edwin Marshall of the Indiana University School of Optometry will deliver the Lecture Presentation, titled “Public Importance of Health Care and Vision”. Dr. Alexandra Staco has also been specially invited to share some insights into the eye care situation in Haiti. The Honorable Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, will deliver the feature address at the lecture, which is themed “Countdown to 2020, The Public Health Importance of Eye and Vision Care”. The Lecture will be held at the Learning Resource Centre, Auditorium B, UWI St Augustine, from 4pm to 6.30pm. 

Also expected to deliver remarks at the Lecture are Dr. Anton Cumberbatch, Chief Medical Officer; Professor Clement Sankat, UWI Pro Vice Chancellor and St Augustine Campus Principal; Professor Dyer Narinesingh, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture; Nigel St Rose, President of the TTOA, as well as representatives of the Ophthalmology Association and the TTORC.

Leading up to the World Sight Day public lecture, there will be free vision screening, an exposition, a number of displays and other presentations, all highlighting the public health importance of eye and vision care, from noon to 3 pm at the Humanities Undercroft. The Exposition, displays, presentations, and vision screenings are free of charge and open to the public.

The World Sight Day activities come against the backdrop of a global initiative by the World Health Organisation to give priority to prevention of blindness and visual impairment. In a number of countries, there are not enough trained eye care personnel or infrastructure to support needed eye care services. As a result, an estimated 670 million people around the world are blind or vision impaired simply because they do not have access to an eye examination and a pair of glasses. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that blindness prevention and vision correction rank with immunisations among the most cost effective and efficient of all health interventions. In May 2006, the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the WHO, passed a resolution giving priority to prevention of blindness and visual impairment. This is the first time the WHO has made prevention of blindness a global priority, encouraging governments to take action and commit resources to the many simple and cost-effective interventions that can save sight and give a better quality of life to millions.


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Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.