Over a billion have vision impairment sans treatment: WHO

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Rohit Shishodia
A World Health Organization (WHO) report on vision has revealed that more than one billion people are suffering from vision impairment due to lack of treatment. These people suffer from short and far sightedness, glaucoma and cataract.

The report, which has been released on the eve of October 10, World Sight Day, points out causes such as ageing population, changing lifestyle and limited acess to eye care, for the massive vision impairment.

The report has revealed that worldwide 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.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, DG, WHO, said that people who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. “Including eye care in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage,” he added.

Dr Tedros further said that it is not acceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses.”

The WHO report pointed out that eye conditions that can cause vision impairment and blindness, including 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.

The report pointed out that US$14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.

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