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Sophie Wessex launches the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme via video link

UK News

The Countess of Wessex has revealed that the increased hygiene levels during the coronavirus pandemic has had a positive impact on eye care as as she helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme via video link last week.

The Royal Family Twitter account shared a photo of Sophie Wessex, 55, Patron of IAPB, speaking with four eye health professionals from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness during the virtual meeting.

Alongside the snap, the caption read: ‘The call presented an opportunity for the eye-health professionals from around the world to share their experiences, working with patients in hospitals, with charities, within clinics and scientific research. 

‘Together they talked about providing care during COVID-19.

Sophie Wessex, 55, Patron of IAPB, helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme via video link last week (pictured)

Sophie Wessex, 55, Patron of IAPB, helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme via video link last week (pictured)

Sophie Wessex, 55, Patron of IAPB, helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme via video link last week (pictured)

The royal spoke to four eye health professionals from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness during the virtual meeting (pictured)

The royal spoke to four eye health professionals from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness during the virtual meeting (pictured)

The royal spoke to four eye health professionals from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness during the virtual meeting (pictured)

It continued: ‘The Award was specially created to celebrate young and upcoming talent in the eye care sector. 

@IAPB1 is encouraging eye health organisations to nominate a member of staff who is innovative, a future leader or change maker. Entries close in September.’

During the virtual call, Sophie asked to hear about new strategies that are being implemented now that may have a positive impact further down the line.

One eye health professional said: With all the campaigning on washing hands we are seeing an opportunity to add on this and put face washing in the schools.’

Sophie replied: ‘That’s absolutely valid because certainly in the countries I’ve visited I’ve seen so many issues being caused by lack of hygiene and of course, when there are programs that have combined with other organisations, the effect it has on the reduction of some of these eye diseases is dramatic. 

‘It’s an incredible valid point that hopefully with these simple measures, in another 10-15 years time, it’ll be interesting to see the figures of how much impact these measures may have had on the ground.

The Royal Family Twitter account penned: 'The Countess of Wessex helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme last week' (pictured)

The Royal Family Twitter account penned: 'The Countess of Wessex helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme last week' (pictured)

The Royal Family Twitter account penned: ‘The Countess of Wessex helped to launch the 2020 Eye Health Heroes award programme last week’ (pictured)

The Countess of Wessex joined blindness prevention charity Orbis UK to mark the launch of the See My Future Appeal on 28 March 2019

The Countess of Wessex joined blindness prevention charity Orbis UK to mark the launch of the See My Future Appeal on 28 March 2019

The Countess of Wessex joined blindness prevention charity Orbis UK to mark the launch of the See My Future Appeal on 28 March 2019 

She added: ‘Simple stuff like this right now you take for granted. We’re concentrating on a virus, but actually this is actually going to have a good effect for other reasons on things like eye conditions, which is a positive.’

Following the call, Sophie commented: ‘The COVID-19 outbreak presents us with the danger of losing ground on hard-won progress in eye care delivery. There is also a real concern that vulnerable communities will have less access to care because of COVID-19. 

‘And yet, after speaking to the Eye Health Heroes, it’s clear there is still potential to learn from the situation and improve eye care globally. We need to see more such amazing people”. 

The Countess of Wessex has previously told how she was moved by her daughter’s vision problems to campaign on behalf of blind and visually impaired people around the world. 

Sophie’s daughter Louise was born prematurely in 2003, causing a condition called strabismus, which left her with what the countess described as a ‘profound’ squint.

Lady Louise, 16 (left) was born prematurely in 2003, causing a condition called strabismus, which left her with what the countess described as a 'profound' squint. Pictured with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour 2018 on June 9, 2018 in London

Lady Louise, 16 (left) was born prematurely in 2003, causing a condition called strabismus, which left her with what the countess described as a 'profound' squint. Pictured with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour 2018 on June 9, 2018 in London

Lady Louise, 16 (left) was born prematurely in 2003, causing a condition called strabismus, which left her with what the countess described as a ‘profound’ squint. Pictured with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour 2018 on June 9, 2018 in London

She has since had the problem corrected because cosmetically it was awkward for her, Sophie said, and she can now see properly.

Explaining Lady Louise’s condition, the countess – wife of Edward, Earl of Wessex, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s youngest son – told the Sunday Express: ‘Premature babies can often have squints because the eyes are the last thing in the baby package to really be finalised.’

‘Her squint was quite profound when she was tiny and it takes time to correct it. You’ve got to make sure one eye doesn’t become more dominant than the other but she’s fine now – her eyesight is perfect.’

As Patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, the Countess has seen first-hand the difference organisations with the right knowledge, experience and funding can make on a global scale.

She has been a Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) since 2003.

In 2013, she visited the Orbis flying hospital programme in India and Qatar to highlight global issues around preventable childhood blindness and the need for funding for eye health programmes.

DailyMail Online


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