Speech by HRH Princess Margriet at the opening of the Vision 2017 Conference in The Hague
Ladies and gentlemen,
As patron of VISION 2020 Netherlands I’d like to welcome you all to the Netherlands.
And to The Hague, international city of peace and justice. Where every day tens of thousands of people work together to make the world more peaceful, just and secure.
As of today, The Hague will also be spreading the message worldwide that:
low vision rehabilitation is a global right.
Let me explain.
Even in prosperious countries like the Netherlands, there’s still a high incidence of avoidable blindness and vision loss. The groups most at risk are the elderly, the mentally disabled, and nursing and care home residents.
The variety of possible multiple consequences are evident and impair the quality of life of the people concerned. Accidents, both small and serious are likely to occur and can also burden the health system.
In most cases, loss of vision is very gradual. Many people don’t even notice that their sight has deteriorated.
This can often be solved with new glasses, cataract operations, low vision aids or visual rehabilitation.
But many vulnerable people with impaired vision don’t seek medical help. The problem is only solved through active screening.
So VISION 2020 Netherlands has developed a simple test chart to screen for low vision.
This year it will be used by eighteen hundred Dutch district nurses working for the home care organisation Buurtzorg. That means it will reach a wide target group. Which is good news!
But there’s also less good news. The year 2020 – the year by which VISION 2020 aims to eliminate avoidable vision loss around the world – is almost upon us. We’re running out of time. The future is now.
We must pool our efforts and act quickly to make avoidable vision loss a thing of the past, not only in the Netherlands, but around the world. And to ensure that people who need it have access to visual rehabilitation.
The saying that prevention is better than care is certainly true, as early recognition of avoidable vision loss will prevent harmful consequences to happen. So early screening is also more cost-effective.
Often only a few simple modifications are needed at home and at work to allow the blind and visually impaired to lead normal lives. Despite the heavy personal burden of low vision.
The aim of this conference is to provide systematic support for people with low vision.
We need innovative patient empowerment services for this group and their families. Because:
low vision rehabilitation should be a global right.
This conference calls for action, asking everyone here today to spread this message around the world, and to act on it.
I hereby declare the Vision 2017 conference open!