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VISION HEALTH

Introduction 

The World Blind Union (WBU) promotes the needs and views of blind and partially sighted people worldwide. One of the main priorities of the WBU is to support and enhance our advocacy, representation and capacity strengthening efforts through raising awareness and providing resources on matters important to blind and partially sighted people. 

As the prevalence of visual loss and blindness increases worldwide, the WBU continues to provide information and resources to our members and the public to raise awareness and support our members' efforts to advocate for accessible and affordable health care services. 

According to latest World report on vision released by the World Health Organization (WHO), October 2019, at least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed.

The report found that ageing populations,  changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are among the main drivers of the rising numbers of people living with vision impairment.

Other main findings of the report include:

  • The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.
  • The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.
  • Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries. Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
  • US$14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.

Globally:
  • 253 million people are blind or visually impaired, meaning they have moderate or severe distance vision impairment or blindness. 
  • At least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment that may or may not be addressed. This include those with moderate and severe distance vision impairment, those with mild distance vision impairment and near vision impairment. 

    (* According to WHO, the inclusion of near vision impairment in the World report on vision ​2019 statistics was justified due to the significant impact or unaddressed near vision impairment on quality of life and the considerable financial burden it poses due to global productivity losses.) 
  • Of those, at least 1 billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed
  • This 1 billion people includes those with moderate or severe distance vision impairment or blindness due to unaddressed refractive error (123.7 million), cataract (65.2 million), glaucoma (6.9 million), corneal opacities (4.2 million), diabetic retinopathy (3 million), and trachoma (2 million), as well as near vision impairment caused by unaddressed presbyopia (826 million).
  • In terms of regional differences, the prevalence of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions. With regards to near vision, rates of unaddressed near vision impairment are estimated to be greater than 80% in western, eastern and central sub-Saharan Africa, while comparative rates in high-income regions of North America, Australasia, Western Europe, and of Asia-Pacific are reported to be lower than 10%.
Read more on the WHO Website 

Listen to IAPB Webinar about WHO's work building on the recommendations of the World Report on Vision, held on 16 July 2020 

The World Blind Union believes that prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment is critical. We call on governments to honour their commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which obligate them to provide affordable and accessible health care services. 

Additionally, we encourage and support national and international initiatives aimed at reducing avoidable visual impairments, such as  the “Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014 – 2019″ (GAP), and VISION 2020: The Right to Sight" and the initiatives of the WHO

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight​ 

Vision 2020 is a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) launched in 1999 to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020. The Global Initiative was set up to intensify and accelerate prevention of blindness activities to achieve the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020. 

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Disclaimer 

The material contained on this page is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If persons are concerned about their vision or are experiencing any symptoms, they should consult with their doctor and/or eye health care professional. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the WBU website. Every situation is individual and general advice may not apply to you. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency service immediately.

The views or opinions stated in external resources, which are links from the WBU website, do not necessarily reflect those of WBU. The information is gathered from global organizations, well known for their expertise in eye health matters.​​​​​​