Contact lenses and other vision technology are playing an increasingly important role in improving eyesight in the visually impaired, according to a leading eye care specialist.
There are around 39 million blind people globally and 246 million with low vision, but Alcon Vision Care ME marketing manager Dr Tarek Mahmoud claimed that around 80 per cent of blindness is either curable or treatable.
In a special event to raise awareness of the benefits of contact lenses and glasses in the UAE, Dr Mahmoud underlined the significant advances over the last few years.
Some lenses are capable of being worn during the night while sleeping, or even for up to six nights in a row.
This has major implications for the visually impaired, 90 per cent of whom live in developing countries, according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr Mahmoud also set out to debunk some myths about contact lenses, which have been known to put off some people in the past.
One of the more common myths is that contact lenses can get lost behind the eye.
"This can never happen because a thin - but strong - membrane, called the conjunctiva, lines the inside of your eyelids and curls back on itself to cover the white part of the eye," he explained. "Lenses cannot pass through it and tend to centre automatically on the cornea."
Contact lenses are already popular in the western world, but are emerging as a low-cost, viable option in developing nations in regions such as the Middle East.
New developments also mean that contact lenses can now be worn by the vast majority of people.
Visual Edge optometrist Nick Dash noted earlier this month: "Many people that have previously failed with contact lenses can now successfully wear contact lenses to gain the benefits of 'freedom from frames'," he said.
Lenses have also been developed that are capable of being worn during physical sports, such as football, rugby and tennis.