The cover story in the November issue of the ESCRS Eurotimes is entitled “Striving to meet targets” and discusses the global impact of VISION 2020's goal of eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020.

“VISION 2020 – The right to sight” was established 12 years ago following the World Health Organisation (WHO) teaming up with non-governmental organisations and professional societies in eye care. Apparently with just 8 years to go to the VISION 2020 deadline the statistics make daunting reading: in 2010 an estimated 285 million people worldwide were visually impaired, while 39 million were classified as blind. Over 85% of those with poor vision live in developing countries and cataracts are still the commonest cause of preventable blindness. Although the number of people suffering is still far too high people are encouraged by the fact that 39 million is 6 million less blind people than when VISION 2020 started its campaign.

A cataract is clouding of the lens inside the eye and is extremely common, even in the UK, after the age of 65yrs. In England and Wales it is estimated that 2.4 million people over this age group have visually significant cataract in one or both eyes (Royal College of Ophthalmologists 2010). Fortunately cataract surgery has undergone substantial improvements over the last decade and is now routinely performed using ultrasound energy = phacoemulsification. This small incision “key-hole” technique involves “breaking up” and removing the cloudy lens using controlled ultrasound energy and placing a new clear intraocular lens implant inside the eye. In experienced hands the procedure generally has very good predictable results, with a high level of patient satisfaction. This type of surgery is the most common elective surgical procedure in the UK, with 329,447 cataract operations, between 2008-2009, in England alone (Hospital Episode Statistics, 2009).

For more information on “VISION 2020 – The right to sight” visit www.v2020.org