WHO report shows how big the problem of blindness that could have been prevented is

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Published: October 12, 2019 1:01:00 AM

The WHO’s first-ever World Vision Report highlights that 2.2 billion people across the globe suffer from vision impairment—of these, nearly a billion cases could have been prevented, if they were addressed with basic necessities for eye care.

The loss to the economy and to society, due to the lack of eye-care coverage, is significant and the report urges policymakers to pay heed. (Source: Reuters)

The WHO’s first-ever World Vision Report highlights that 2.2 billion people across the globe suffer from vision impairment—of these, nearly a billion cases could have been prevented, if they were addressed with basic necessities for eye care. Impairments like myopia—this affects 2.6 billion people, of which, 312 million are below 19 years of age—can be resolved with basic accessibility to eye-care. The loss to the economy and to society, due to the lack of eye-care coverage, is significant and the report urges policymakers to pay heed.

The annual cost of moderate-to-severe vision impairment ranged from $0.1 billion in Honduras to $16.5 billion in the US. However, the annual global costs of productivity losses due presbyopia and uncorrected myopia were estimated to be around $25.4 billion and $244 billion, respectively. This economic burden in East Asia, South-East Asia, and South Asia is more than twice that of regions, and equals to more than 1% of GDP. The report, thus, pushes for universal health coverage across the globe to consider to eye-care. The report hailed India’s National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB). NPCB has provided cataract surgery to 6.5 million people—a cataract surgical rate of over 6,000 per million population—in 2016-17. It has also provided school screening to 32 million children; around 7,50,000 spectacles were distributed. The outcome resulted in an overall reduction in prevalence of blindness—from 1.1% in 2001-02 to 0.45% from 2015-18. If such concerted efforts are taken globally and eye-care is brought under universal health coverage, it would, the report notes, lead to better labour productivity and quality of life.

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