International Agency for Prevention of Blindness

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Many years ago, the London Society for the Prevention of Blindness was established and it began focusing attention on the causes and prevention of blindness at an International Congress of Hygiene in Geneva. In 1908, The National Society to Prevent Blindness (NSPB) is founded in the United States. In 1929, the International Agency for prevention of blindness (IAPB) was formedThe International Organization Against Trachoma was founded in France. 50 countries to participate in the World Conference on Work for the Blind held in Washington D.C.on 1931. 

WHO logo

In 1948 “World Health Organization” was Founded where there were no specific activities for the prevention of blindness. From 1950, WHO directed its attention to the blinding disease called Trachoma.  Mass health education, tetracycline distribution, and surgical correction of the trichiasis were initiated by WHO. In 1950, the British Empire Society for the Blind was founded in the United Kingdom and begins blindness surveys in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and in East and Central Africa and showed a shocking magnitude of blindness prevalent in the world. In 1952, WHO calls an Expert Committee on Trachoma. In 1961, The International Eye Foundation is founded in the United States by John Harry King, Jr., M.D., whose primary purpose is teaching with a mandate of the prevention and cure of blindness worldwide. In 1962, Sir John Wilson proposes a fusion between the Committee for the Prevention of Blindness of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind and the Association for the Prevention of Blindness. 
In 1963, Operation Eyesight Universal was founded in Canada. In 1964, the First meeting of the Joint Committee in Geneva was held. The rule for Adoption of an international system for classifying causes of blindness was made. Although reporting of results was confused by different definitions of blindness and its causes, it was increasingly clear that besides trachoma there are several important blinding diseases commonly found in developing countries.

In 1972, Following a request from the World Health Assembly, WHO carries out a systematic inventory of available data on blindness and reports that there are between 10 and 15 million blind people in the world. Vitamin A capsule distribution programs begin with the launching of initiatives in Indonesia and E1-Salvador.
IAPB Member country
IAPB logo

With the encouragement of WHO, the Association was transformed into the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness(IAPB) on January 1, 1975. Since its founding, the IAPB as a consortium of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and national committees within more than 60 countries has directed efforts toward mobilizing resources, increasing public awareness, supporting sight conservation programs, and implementing WHO health-care strategies aimed at blinding diseases.


In 1976, The theme of World Health Day on April 7 was “Foresight Prevents Blindness. In 1976, The National Programme for the Control of Blindness was launched in India by IAPB.
In 1978, the WHO Programme for the Prevention of Blindness is officially established in Geneva. In 1978, WHO Task Force estimates that there are probably 28 to 42 million blind people in the world. For the first time, the definition of blindness was set by WHO.

seva logo

Seva Foundation was founded in the United States. Blindness prevention in Nepal was adopted as the primary focus of program activity. The First General Assembly of the IAPB held in Oxford, United Kingdom
First, a nationwide probability sample-based survey of blindness was carried out in Nepal with the cooperation of WHO, the government of the Netherlands, Seva Foundation, the Norwegian Agency for International Development, and other participating agencies. Nepal was the first country to ever have a Comprehensive blindness Sample Survey in 1981. Seeing the conclusion of Cataract and Trachoma as a leading cause of blindness, Geta Eye hospital was established in the western remote part of Nepal.
In 1985, The International Eye Foundation becomes the first international eye-care NCO to be accepted into official relations with WHO. The Second General Assembly of the IAPB is held in Bethesda. The Third General Assembly of the IAPB is held in New Delhi, India. In 1987, WHO Task Force completes a second comprehensive compilation and analysis of blindness data and estimates that there are between 27 and 35 million blind people in the world. The Fourth General Assembly of the IAPB is held in Nairobi, Kenya, and is attended by more than 400 ophthalmologists, public health workers, and managers.

vision 2020 logo

VISION 2020: Finally, The Right to Sight – the Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness by the year 2020 was formally launched from W.H.O. Headquarters, Geneva on February 18th, 1999.
Global awareness leading to ownership of Vision 2020 at all levels, particularly at the community level of implementation. In the year 2000, Lions Club International Foundation integrates “World Sight Day” – an event launched as a part of their Sight the First campaign – with VISION 2020
The WHO releases new data on the prevalence of global blindness on December 16th, 2004. According to the new figures, in 2002, 161 million people were visually impaired, of whom 124 million people had low vision and 37 million were blind. Cataract (47.8%) continues to be a major cause for global blindness, especially in developing countries. Glaucoma (12.3%), Age-related Macular Degeneration (8.7%), and Diabetic Retinopathy (4.8%), along with Cataract account for close to 75% of all blindness in the worldGlobal Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness Action Plan 2006-2011 is released by the WHO. visual impairment prevalence has been reduced from 314 million people in 2004 to 285.3 million today. Of these, 39.8 million people are estimated to be blind worldwide in 2010.
Global action plan
The 66th World Health Assembly unanimously approves ‘Universal Eye Health: A Global Action Plan 2014-2019‘. The plan, building upon and replacing previous VISION 2020 and 2009 – 2013 Action Plans, commits governments to a 25% reduction in the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by the year 2019 from the baseline of 2010.
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