More than 1 billion people worldwide are living with vision impairment because they do not get the care they need for conditions like short and far sightedness, glaucoma and cataract, according to the first world report on vision issued by the World Health Organisation.
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.
Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.
Eye conditions that can cause vision impairment and blindness – such as cataract, trachoma and refractive error – are the main focus of national prevention and other eye care strategies. But eye conditions that do not typically impair vision, including dry eye and conjunctivitis, must not be overlooked as they are among the main reasons for people to seek eye health care services in all countries, the report states.
Other main drivers of the most common eye conditions include:
Myopia (near-sightedness): Increased time spent indoors and increased “near work” activities are leading to more people suffering from myopia. Increased outdoor time can reduce this risk.
Diabetic retinopathy: Increasing numbers of people are living with diabetes, particularly Type 2, which can impact vision if not detected and treated. Routine eye checks and good diabetes control can protect people’s vision from this condition.
Late detection: Due to weak or poorly integrated eye care services, many people lack access to routine checks that can detect conditions and lead to the delivery of appropriate preventive care or treatment.