International Agency of the Month: VISION 2020 UK

Date Posted: 03/01/2016

by Maribel Steel, International Agency of the Month Correspondent

Welcome to our International Agency of the Month, VISION 2020 UK. It is an organization based in London that also works extensively throughout the United Kingdom for people who are blind or visually-impaired. VISION 2020 UK is the umbrella organization which leads collaboration and co-operation between organizations within the UK.

Maribel: I interviewed Niall Ryan, the Communications Officer of VISION 2020 UK, to find out about this organization's work. Here are the highlights:

VISION 2020 UK Logo

Focus of Vision 2020 UK

"We focus on vision impairment and operate on a national, regional and international basis."

The Mission of VISION 2020 UK

"Our mission is to lead the collaboration of interested organizations in order to improve eye-health for people living with impaired vision within the UK, to prevent avoidable sight loss, and ensure their inclusion and participation in society."

"We will know our mission is fulfilled when there is:

  • Person centred, integrated care and support of the highest quality
  • No needless loss of sight
  • A seamless pathway for those who have lost sight
  • An equal opportunity to participate in society

Brief History of VISION 2020 UK

VISION 2020 UK team promoting World Sight Day 2015

VISION 2020 UK was established in 2002 as part of the VISION 2020 global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

VISION 2020 UK is the umbrella body for the eye health and sight loss sectors.

It brings together charities, professional groups, providers and networks with links to eye health and sight loss. Our unique role is to bring together a diverse range of players to achieve our strategic objectives.

Service delivery in the UK currently relies on many diverse organizations working collaboratively and VISION 2020 UK has a unique mission to not just bring the sector together but also to advocate for those with sight loss with government and others who can influence change.

Funding of the Organization

VISION 2020 UK is a registered charity which is governed by an elected Board of Trustees, comprising experts from the eye health, sight loss and healthcare sectors. VISION 2020 UK is funded by its member organizations, sharing an interest in eye health and sight loss.

Main Challenges for People with Vision Loss in the UK to Gain Services

Child being taught how to use a braille machine

The main challenges in the UK include

  • An aging population where sight loss is becoming an increasing factor
  • Children with sight loss neither identified early enough nor given access to the support they need
  • A lack of access to treatments and support
  • Individuals with multiple conditions (sight loss and dementia/ learning disabilities) not receiving quality care

Goals of VISION 2020 UK

In order to fulfill our mission and move closer to our goals our strategic priorities for the next 3 years are:

  1. To identify across the UK, where the eye health and sight loss services are less effective than they should be, and to use evidence to effect change.
  2. To raise awareness, to promote and influence within the sector and beyond, ways to: prevent sight loss; improve services; and
  3. ensure the inclusion of people with visual impairments in society.
  4. To work with our partners to develop and promote good evidence and quality in:
  • Prevention, awareness and public health
  • Early detection
  • Effective treatment
  • Post diagnosis practical and emotional support
  • Rehabilitation
  • Self-help and peer support

Niall Ryan: "As you can see, our goals are aligned with the main challenges of people with vision loss living in the UK."

Maribel: Tell us a little about the CEO of VISION2020 UK

Mercy Jeyasingham, CEO, VISION 2020 UK

Mercy Jeyasingham joined as CEO of VISION 2020 UK in July 2014. She brings to the position over 25 years of health and social care experience in both the voluntary and statutory sectors.

She was a non-executive Director of NICE for 12 years from 2001-2013, overseeing the expansion of NICE from appraisals and clinical guidance to public health and social care. She was a lay Chair of the Fitness to Practice Committee of the General Optical Council for 10 years and a consultant with the King’s Fund for 14 years. Mercy has held posts as Director of Registration for the GSCC where she established the statutory register for social workers, Head of Accreditation for the RCN, and Programme Manager for the King’s Fund.

A final word: VISION 2020 UK also reports on the progress of the UK Vision Strategy to the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness).

Maribel: Our thanks to Niall Ryan, the Communications Officer of VISION 2020 UK for coordinating this interview.

Links to More Information About the Ongoing Work of Vision 2020 UK and Partners

The IAPB (The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness)

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.