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Plan to eliminate poor vision worldwide by 2050

Newly published research from Essilor has suggested an investment of US $14 billion (AU$21 b) over the next 30 years could be enough to eliminate uncorrected poor vision due to refractive errors worldwide.

Additionally, it is also believed the contribution would provide a significant return on investment by eliminating the estimated US $272 billion (AU$402 b) in productivity that is lost every year due to uncorrected vision.

The findings have been detailed in the report Eliminating poor vision in a Generation: What will it take to eliminate uncorrected refractive errors by 2050?, which was undertaken by Essilor and supported by McKinsey & Company. It was presented to international representatives on the sidelines of the recent 74th Session of the United National General Assembly.

The report calls on four areas of development: targeted investment in accessible eyecare services, investment in affordable eyecare solutions, direct funding for healthcare services and increased awareness.

Specifically, US$2.4 billion (AU$3.6 b) would be needed to create 1 million new access points for eyecare, US$0.7 billion (AU$1.0 b) for accelerating the development of innovative technologies, US$6.6 billion (AU$9.8 b) to subsidise healthcare services and US$4.5 billion (AU$6.7 b) to increase the awareness of poor vision’s cost to society.

The report cautions that if left unchecked refractive errors could reach epidic proportions, with more than half of the world’s population expected to suffer from myopia by 2050.

The burden of uncorrected refractive errors is not distributed evenly across the globe, with Africa and Asia together accounting for almost 50% of cases. This is due to a combination of high rates of refractive errors alongside limited access to eyecare services.

“While there have been many successful initiatives by both public and private actors in recent years, there is clearly a need to do more to bring good vision to everyone,” Mr Hubert Sagnières, executive vice-chairman of EssilorLuxottica and chairman of Essilor International, said.

“At the same time, there is simply no blueprint to achieve our ambition. This report will provide the necessary guidance while engaging the different stakeholders towards one goal. It illustrates our endeavour to take our efforts further by investigating this vision crisis and uncovering how to solve it. Governments, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral organisations, donors, eye care professionals and the private sector all have a role to play as we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to end a public health crisis.”