Vision Health Month centres on those who are vulnerable and at risk of vision complications
TORONTO, ON – In its fourth year of advocating for the right to sight, the Eye See You campaign continues to prioritize the vision health of all Canadians. During Vision Health Month, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) is focusing on addressing inequalities amongst those most ‘at risk’ for vision loss. We must level the playing field, so that vulnerable populations have the same educational information and opportunities to prioritize vision health, as other Canadians.
A multi-disciplinary panel discussion is being held in Toronto tonight to highlight knowledge gaps and identify solutions, so everyone in Canada can prioritize their sight.
With the country’s leading experts in aging, vision-health and advocacy, the panel will unpack this complex discussion and highlight major themes that need to be addressed, before the Canadian situation can see positive impacts.
Ms. Laura Tamblyn Watts, Chief Public Policy Officer for CARP will moderate the discussion with the following esteemed panelists:
“Vision loss is one of the biggest fears of older adults, and most conditions are largely preventable,” says Laura Tamblyn Watts of CARP. “While seniors are one of the at-risk groups, education is key to empowering them to care for their eyes.”
In advance of the panel discussion, the IFA shared some compelling new research that puts the vision health issue, into context. According to the data, more than half of respondents (57%) understand that aging alone does not cause vision loss, but that there are other factors at play, such as chronic conditions like diabetes. Poor understanding of preventative strategies and difficulty accessing vision screening and treatments are areas that more than half of respondents believe contribute to vision loss.
“We know through our ongoing work with the Eye See You campaign that misinformation and myths keep many Canadians from making their sight a priority,” says Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General at the IFA. “So much of the campaign’s success has been built from bringing groups together- build bridges between disciplines and sectors – so we can uncover the challenges and work as a collective to address and resolve – this is where we see the greatest impact.”
The research also showed 1 in 4 Canadians believe that increasing availability of routine screening and exams is the best approach to promote vision loss. Despite expert insights that point to a need for increased education of vision loss in high-risk populations, only 14 per cent of respondents identify this as a priory. Even fewer see broader public health education as important to promote vision health.
“Vision Health Month is a perfect opportunity to expand our thinking and better understand who is vulnerable”, says Dr. Jan Hux, President, Diabetes Canada. “A partnered approach to education is always preferred and through the panel discussion, we hope to demonstrate our commitment to those at high-risk for vision complications and how they can prioritize their vision care.”
The IFA-led survey also uncovered that 6-in-10 (57%) indicate that access to screening and treatments is the most important benefit from a prioritized approach to vision loss. Independence and improved mobility for those with vision loss was seen as a benefit for only 32% of respondents. Only 24% think that there would be diminished strain on the health system and even less (22%) see a bigger socio-economic benefit from prioritizing vision health.
The panel discussion takes place on 28 May at Women’s College Hospital Auditorium – the event is open to the public and will look at the following themes: who is at risk, challenging harmful narratives and myths and addressing the gaps. See here for full event details.
About the Partners
The International Federation of Ageing (IFA) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) with a membership base comprising government, NGOs, industry, academia, and individuals in 70 countries. IFA is a voice alongside and on behalf of older adults globally and has General Consultative Status at the United Nations and its agencies including the World Health Organization.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization of over 230 national diabetes associations in 170 countries and territories. It represents the interests of the growing number of people with diabetes and those at risk. The Federation has been leading the global diabetes community since 1950. For further information visit: http://www.idf.org/
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is the coordinating membership organization leading international efforts in blindness prevention activities. IAPB’s mission is to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by bringing together governments and non-governmental agencies to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of sustainable national eye care programs. For more information, please visit: http://www.iapb.org
PRESS RELEASE | 25 April 2019
Outdated stereotypes and misconceptions of older age are pervasive, overwhelmingly negative and are also often internalized by older people, with serious impacts on participation, health and life expectancy.
With the undying belief that innovation is the key to helping older adults maintain their health, independence, and dignity as well as an ongoing commitment to accessibility for reading in later life, Mr Michael Tamblyn is a leader in disrupting the status quo.
Embedded in his work is the drive to ensure people of all generations are empowered to combat ageism and therein create global social change.
He asks those around him “If change is coming, is someone going to change things for us, or are we going to change for ourselves?” Mr Tamblyn is proud to lead the first digital revolution that isn’t being driven by 18-25 year old’s, but instead being powered by women 50 years and older who love reading.
As President and CEO of one of the world’s fastest growing eReading services, Rakuten Kobo has a mission “to empower booklovers to read more.” As part of that mission, Rakuten Kobo wants to make sure that all people can keep reading throughout their entire lives, from first words to final chapter.
Mr Tamblyn is an engaging international speaker who addresses innovation, digital media, publishing and mobile technology. He advises startups focused on ageing and technology (gerontechnology) through his role as Chief Entrepreneur of Age-Well NCE and serves on the board of the Law Commission of Ontario.
The IFA is pleased to welcome Mr Tamblyn as a key note speaker at the 15th Global Conference on Ageing in Niagara Falls, Canada from 1-3 November 2020. Bringing examples from industry, his address will contribute to the critical and timely discussion on the importance of challenging damaging narratives.
To learn more about the 15th Global Conference on Ageing, visit the website. Discounted registration is available for early bird sign up until 31 December 2019.
Ms Paula Colaso
Media, Marketing and Communications Officer
Full Statement | 26 April 2019
Vaccination is a proven mechanism for managing and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to prevent approximately 2 – 3 million deaths each year. It is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions that is accessible to even the most hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations. A life course approach to vaccination as a gold standard would provide a point of contact for health care from the beginning of life and offer every person the chance at a healthy life from infancy and into old age.
Despite the many benefits of immunization, low adult vaccination uptake rates are a serious public health concern in the context of healthy ageing and escalating health and social care costs. The value of vaccines for adults is underappreciated and vaccine coverage is subpar for specific risk groups including older adults and people with chronic conditions, where the burden of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) remains.
The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – known as vaccine hesitancy – is rising and threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. It has been identified as one of the top ten threats to global health by the World Health Organization.4 The misconception that vaccination is an unnecessary and harmful intervention has contributed to the resurgence of measles – where a 30% increase is observed globally4 – and other infectious diseases such as whooping cough, in places where they were initially eradicated or under control.
Public health experts and health professionals all over the world are fighting against false claims that are made daily using social media platforms. Facebook has been under pressure regarding anti-vaccination information displayed on its site and will block advertising containing misinformation about vaccines.5 The American Medical Institute (AMA) is challenging other media channels including Amazon, Google and Twitter who have started removing advertisements on their websites as well.6
While the reasons for refusing vaccination are complex, the decision ultimately leads to consequences on a local, regional, national and global scale. Those impacted most by decreasing vaccine coverage are vulnerable populations, who rely on herd immunity for protection from infectious disease.
Public health and organizations representing at-risk groups such as older people and those with chronic diseases must make a collective effort to ensure that accurate information is communicated effectively. Furthermore, health care professionals (HCPs) are encouraged to educate their patients on the life-saving benefits of immunization as a disease prevention strategy, especially with those who are at increased risk of complications. A consistent narrative around immunization within healthcare and across disciplines is critical to improved vaccine uptake.
This World Immunization Week, World Coalition on Adult Vaccination members unite to raise awareness on a life course approach to vaccination, educate communities on the importance of immunization, address vaccine misinformation and advocate for equitable access.
Taking into consideration differences within and between countries, Coalition members have agreed that:
World Immunization Week is a time for organizations across disciplines and sectors to come together, stand in solidarity and advocate for the common goal of increasing vaccination uptake, coverage, accessibility and availability across the world. To protect the health, well-being and functional ability of people of all ages against disease, vaccination remains to be an invaluable instrument of health.
Dr Jane Barratt
International Federation on Ageing
firstname.lastname@example.org | +1 416 342 1655
References: World Health Organization. “Immunization”. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/topics/immunization/en/  World Health Organization. “World Immunization Week 2019”. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2019/04/24/default-calendar/world-immunization-week-2019  Gemmill I. (2015). Vaccines for adults: The time has come. Canada communicable disease report.41(Suppl 3), 2–5.  World Health Organization. “Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019”. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019  Cohen, E & Bonifield, J 2019, Facebook to get tougher on anti-vaxers, CNN, viewed 21 March 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/25/health/facebook-anti-vaccine-content/index.html  Johnson, SR 2019, AMA urges Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more to limit false anti-vaccine claims, Modern Healthcare, viewed 21 March 2019, https://www.modernhealthcare.com/safety/ama-urges-amazon-facebook-google-and-twitter-do-more-limit-false-anti-vaccine-claims