Related Topics: Reports & Indices, Public Health
- World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first World Vision Report, proposing ways to address challenges such as integrating eye care into healthcare systems.
- The report was launched ahead of World Sight Day, which is observed on October 10 annually.
Key Findings of the Report
- Ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eyecare, 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 billion people have vision impairment or blindness.
- 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 farsightedness, glaucoma and cataract.
- The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.
- Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries.
- Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
- An estimated $14.3 billion would be needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far-sightedness, and cataracts.
Main causes of rising cases of vision impairment
- 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 combination of a growing and ageing population will significantly increase the total number of people with eye conditions and vision impairment, since prevalence increases with age.
- Presbyopia, a condition in which it is difficult to see nearby objects, affects 1.8 billion people. This condition occurs with advancing age.
- The common refractive error — myopia (a condition in which it is difficult to see objects at a distance) affects 2.6 billion, with 312 million being under the age of 19 years.
- Cataract (65.2 million), age-related macular degeneration (10.4 million), glaucoma (6.9 million), corneal opacities (4.2 million), diabetic retinopathy (3 million), trachoma (2 million), and other causes (37.1 million) are other common vision impairments listed in the report.
- Trachoma is caused due to bacterial infection in the eye. Many countries have eliminated it, including India.
- There was praise for India in the report for its National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB).
- According to the report, in 2016-17, the NPCB provided cataract surgery to a total 6.5 million people in India, achieving a cataract surgical rate of over 6,000 per million population.
- During this period, school screening was provided to nearly 32 million children and approximately 750,000 spectacles were distributed.
- In addition, a total of 1.5 million management / treatment procedures were performed for other eye conditions.
- As a result of these concerted efforts, an overall reduction in prevalence of blindness was reported from 1.1 per cent in 2001-02 to 45 per cent during the years 2015–18.
Stronger integration of eye care is needed within national health services, including at primary health care level, to ensure that the eye care needs of more people are addressed, including through prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation[Source: The Hindu, who.int]