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International

Half of vision impairment in first world preventable

07/05/2018
New research has found around half of the vision impairment in Western Europe is preventable.

The study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, shows the prevalence and causes of vision loss in high income countries worldwide as well as other European nations in 2015, based on a systematic review of medical literature over the previous 25 years. It was conducted by Anglia Ruskin University’s Vision Loss Expert Group, and Professor Rupert Bourne said it was an area of great importance that deserved further attention.

“Overcoming barriers to services which would address uncorrected refractive error could reduce the burden of vision impairment in high-income countries by around half. This is an important public health issue even in the wealthiest of countries and more research is required into better treatments, better implementation of the tools we already have, and ongoing surveillance of the problem,” Bourne said.


"Overcoming barriers to services which would address uncorrected refractive error could reduce the burden of vision impairment in high-income countries by around half."
Rupert Bourne, Professor of Ophthalmology and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at UK National Health Services

“This work has exposed gaps in the global data, given that many countries have not formally surveyed their populations for eye disease. That is the case for the UK and a more robust understanding of people’s needs would help bring solutions.”

A comparison of available data collected from 50 countries showed that the UK was the fifth lowest in terms of blindness prevalence for those above 50-years-old, with only 0.52% of men and women in the age group affected. Belgium had the lowest prevalence rate a 0.46%.

Cataracts were the most common cause of blindness in Western Europe in 2015 at 21.9%, followed by age-related macular degeneration at 16.3% and glaucoma at 13.5%. However, the main cause of all moderate to severe vision impairment was uncorrected refractive error, which was responsible for 49.6% of cases in Western Europe.

The study also predicted that the contribution of the surveyed countries to global vision impairment is expected to reduce slightly by 2020, although the number of people in these nations with impaired vision is expected to increase slightly to 69 million due to a rising overall population.

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