Australia's Leading Ophthalmic Magazine Since 1975

     Free Sign Up     

Australia's Leading Ophthalmic Magazine Since 1975

     Free Sign Up     
News

Worldwide blindness to triple by 2050

09/08/2017By Matthew Woodley
The Fred Hollows Foundation has issued a call for governments worldwide to do more to combat avoidable blindness, after new figures revealed the number of people living with the condition could triple by 2050.

According to a study published in Lancet Global Health, despite the prevalence of blindness declining from 0.75% in 1990 to 0.48% in 2015, continued population growth and higher life expectancy could see the number of blind people skyrocket.


"These figures are a wake-up call for governments and communities everywhere to do more to end avoidable blindness."
Mr Brian Doolan

It’s anticipated that unless more is done to provide funding and improve access to eyecare services, the number of blind people could rise from the current level of 36 million to 115 million by the mid point of the 21st century.

Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Mr Brian Doolan said the findings showed more work was needed to confront the issue.

“These figures are a wake-up call for governments and communities everywhere to do more to end avoidable blindness,” he said.

“It’s appalling that four out of five people who are blind don’t need to be when their sight can be saved through prevention, surgery or treatment. In many cases, The Fred Hollows Foundation can correct blindness with a simple 20-minute surgery that costs as little as $25 in some countries.”

Meanwhile, the same report indicated 1.5 billion people – 20% of the world’s population – currently have some form of vision impairment. The study is the first to include figures on near vision loss due to presbyopia, which affected nearly 1.1 billion people aged over 35, including almost 667 million people over 50.


We take spectacle correction for granted in the developed world, yet globally there are 1.1 billion people who are vision impaired, because they cannot access the reading glasses they need.
Dr Nina Tahhan

Dr Nina Tahhan, Senior Research Fellow at the Brien Holden Vision Institute, co-authored the groundbreaking study and said it was pleasing to see near vision impairment due to presbyopia officially counted in global vision impairment estimates.

“It is one of the simplest vision problems to correct, as just a pair of reading glasses is needed and it is the largest contributor to vision impairment globally, yet it has been historically overlooked,” she said.

“We take spectacle correction for granted in the developed world, yet globally there are 1.1 billion people who are vision impaired, because they cannot access the reading glasses they need to see clearly.”

Of the 36 million people who are already totally blind, 11.7 million reside in South Asia, 6.2 million in East Asia and 3.5 million in Southeast Asia. A further 215 million people have moderate to severe visual impairment.

“The highest burden of eye disease is in regions where we work like South East Asia, where we have already had an impact but more needs to be done,” Doolan said.

“The strategies being used around the world have been shown to work, all we need is to get them to the right scale to address the growing global need. We know what to do, we just need the resources to do it.”

More reading: Full global blindness prevalence report.



Editor's Suggestion
Hot Stories

AND/OR
 

Subscribe for Insight in your Inbox

Get Insight with the latest in industry news, trends, new products, services and equipment!