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07-02-2007, 04:20 PM
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The coveted 2007 Essilor Award for Outstanding International Contributions to Optometry has been given to Hasan Minto, Refractive Error and Low Vision Advisor for Sightsavers International in Pakistan.

This prestigious award, given by the American Academy of Optometry, is in recognition of Hasan's many contributions over the past 20 years in the fields of optometry and low vision.

Hasan, who has worked for leading blindness charity, Sightsavers, for eight years, was nominated for his work in developing low cost vision testing materials and devices, and an affordable and accessible model of low vision care. A resource centre in Hong Kong now supplies these devices to over 100 countries. A resource centre for the procurement of low cost spectacles and optical equipment is also being established in South Africa, with Hasan's input.

Hasan has also been instrumental in establishing the first low vision clinics in Bangladesh, where there are now 15 facilities. Over the past few years, similar clinics have been set up by Hasan in Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia.

Hasan commented on the award "Low vision treatment is now more accessible and is therefore benefiting more people than ever before. This award recognises the steps forward that have been made in this field in ensuring cost-effective treatments are available. Although this is an individual award I view this as recognition of Sightsavers' contributions to the field of optometry."

There are estimated to be 1.5 million people in Pakistan who are blind; two thirds are women. 80% of cases are avoidable. Although the prevalence of blindness is now thought to be 1%, down from 1.78% recorded in 1987, it is still a severe problem in the country. Over the past ten years, the number of low vision clinics across the country has grown to 30, with over 15,000 beneficiaries a year, thanks to the support of Sightsavers.

1. Findings are from the Pakistan National Blindness and Visual Impairment Study 2006, which examined 16,000 adults and some 6,000 children to establish causes of blindness and low vision in the country. The study was undertaken by the Pakistan Institute of Community Ophthalmology in conjunction with the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and was co-funded by Sightsavers International

2. Sightsavers International is a registered UK charity (number 207544) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and improve life for those who will never see.

3. There are 37 million people who are blind in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.

75% of all blindness around the world could be easily avoided, 90% of children who are blind don't go to school. Sightsavers is working through local organisations to change this.

http://www.sightsavers.org (http://www.sightsavers.org/)