HRH The Countess of Wessex, Commonwealth High Commissioners, and politicians have gathered together to discuss the importance of eye health for children across the Commonwealth. The event at Church House in Westminster on May 25th, hosted by the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition, highlighted the inextricable link between child eye health and education ensuring no child is left behind.
Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill, High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda highlighted “Today, 90 million children in the Commonwealth are currently living with sight loss. As a result, these children have poorer educational outcomes, are more likely to be excluded from schools which has far-reaching consequences on their employment, earning potential, and well-being.”
Dr. Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers said “Education is a fundamental human right but many children struggle to learn at school because of poor vision. Performance is affected if they are not given the educational support and the eye health care they need. Those in low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected – statistics show that children with sight loss are two to five times less likely to be in formal education.”
Chair of the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition and Chief Executive of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) Peter Holland said “The Vision for The Commonwealth Coalition is calling on Heads of Government of the Commonwealth to build on their commitment in 2018 to quality eye care for all. We are urging Education Ministers to work with Health Ministers to ensure crucially needed eye tests, glasses and other treatments are available to all children. This will lead to increased school attendance and better educational attainment which, in turn, will enable long term social and economic opportunity.”
As part of the event, HRH The Countess of Wessex presented 13-year-old Lowri Moore with the inaugural Love Your Eyes Campaigner of the Year Award. The Love Your Eyes campaign was launched by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in 2021 to bring awareness of the importance of taking care of your eyes and to break down the stigmas to wearing glasses. The campaign hopes to make eye health accessible, available, and affordable to everyone by 2030.
Commenting on receiving her award Lowri Moore said “I’m over the moon at receiving this award and pleased that I can encourage more people no matter their age to love their eyes. I could never have imagined the difference one letter to Disney could make. It’s been a lesson in following your passion to be the change you wish to see in the world”