Keeping an eye on vision impairment and its cost

From the WHO | Updated on October 12, 2019

Pain point There is limited access to eyecare in low and middle-income countries   -  AMR Image

More than 1 billion people worldwide are living with vision impairment because they do not get the care they need for conditions like short and farsightedness, glaucoma and cataract, says the first World report on vision by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report, launched ahead of World Sight Day on October 10, found that ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eyecare, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are among the main drivers of the rising numbers of people living with vision impairment.

“Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “People who need eyecare must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. Including eyecare in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.”

“It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses,” he adds.

Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed. An estimated $14.3 billion would be needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far-sightedness, and cataracts.

Published on October 12, 2019

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