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Amitabh Bachchan in Australian campaign against blindness in India

Melbourne, June 20: Australian charity The Fred Hollows Foundation is supporting a new campaign featuring Bollywood bigwig Amitabh Bachchan, aimed at promoting eye health in Uttar Pradesh.

Under The Foundation’s SEE NOW campaign, which launched in Uttar Pradesh this week, Bachchan has an urgent but simple message for tens of millions of Indians – go and get your vision checked.

Amitabh Bachchan in Australian campaign for avoidable blindness in India

The message will be reach people in five key districts – Unnao, Lucknow, Raebareli, Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur – using radio, television, print, social media, whatsapp and SMS to provide information on eye health issues, local services and how to access them.

The Fred Hollows Foundation Director of Public Affairs Nick Martin said: “The Fred Hollows Foundation is honoured to have Amitabh Bachchan spreading the word on the importance of eye health in India which ranks second in the world for blindness and vision impairment.”

In his campaign message, Bachchan said: “Vision problems are extremely common in India. Currently about 550 million Indians have serious vision problems which affect their families, their work and their quality of life.

“The basic lack of understanding and awareness of how eye health works leads to stigma about simple and easy treatments and people not finding out about the availability in their area of quality eye care services.

“It really is so simple to avoid a lot of different sorts of blindness,” he said.

The social impacts of vision loss in India are serious:

  • Almost half of all drivers having impaired vision, creating a public safety issue;
  • Women account for 67% of vision problems, but are 40% less likely to access services;
  • Vision impairment is the second highest risk factor for learning difficulties in children; and
  • Poor vision accounts for $37 billion in lost annual productivity.

Bachchan is urging people to go and get their vision checked at government-approved quality services, and if they need glasses to be like him and wear them.

“I remember the first time I was told I had to wear glasses. I almost felt like I had failed in some way, I had always had perfect eyesight and now I suddenly I needed glasses!

“But then I understood that it was helping me not get worse vision problems, that I was treating the health of my eyes as I would the health of the rest of my body. If you get sick you take the medication prescribed and get well. It is just the same with eyes, but glasses are the medication,” Mr Bachchan said.

“And now I love my glasses. I realise now it’s a secret all glasses wearers have, our glasses are cool because they give us the most amazing super power of all, clear sight.”

The SEE NOW campaign is funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation and in part by Essilor Vision Foundation, and in partnership with Sightsavers India and Vision2020 India among others.

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