As the world knows, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II died last week after 70 years as monarch.
Much has already been said about her longevity, her role in global events, and as a constant in a world that has seen so much change over her seven decades on the throne. Still, it’s worthwhile to spend a moment remembering how impactful she was for members of the visually impaired community.
Queen Elizabeth spent years supporting many noteworthy vision health efforts, directing a significant portion of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust toward programs treating people with sight challenges.
Two years ago, on World Sight Day, she joined a video call with eye care specialists, focusing her time, attention, and resources on initiatives dedicated to eliminating blinding trachoma in Africa. On this same video call, the Queen listened intently to the experience of a fisherwoman who had been cheated due to her blindness and, after receiving life-changing treatment, had her vision – and independence – restored.
The Queen’s Trust and partner organizations, including the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, have drastically improved hygienic conditions and provided antibiotic treatment to more than 22 million people in Africa and the Pacific to combat trachoma since 2014. In advancing this work, she met and put a spotlight on the work of Dr. Hillary Rono, a Kenyan ophthalmologist who had screened more than 200,000 schoolchildren in less than three years.
The Queen’s positive contributions to and support for the visually impaired should not be forgotten among the many remembrances shared in the days and weeks ahead.
Herself the beneficiary of advances in ocular science, having surgery to address her cataracts several years ago, Queen Elizabeth’s advocacy for vision health and decades of global leadership are a reminder that we all have ongoing and important contributions to make to better our world. For those of us at Ora, that manifests in the ongoing excellence that you each deliver every day in support of ophthalmic research that can deliver benefits both tomorrow, and for generations to come.
The Queen’s state funeral is on Monday and Britain has marked this day as a National Day of Mourning with our colleagues in the UK taking the day in respect of Queen Elizabeth the II’s service. It may be that others across the world will also be taking a personal day as a mark of respect. Our entire team’s thoughts are with anyone mourning her loss.