2.2 billion People have vision impairment globally – WHO

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THE World Health Organisation (WHO) says at least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness in the world, of which, at least one billion have vision impairment that will have been prevented. The world body made this known on its website in the World Report On Vision, launched ahead of the World Sight Day, annually celebrated on the second Thursday of October. The report states that more than one 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. 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. It quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, as saying that “eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often, they go untreated.” He said that people who required eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship, including eye care in national health plans and essential packages. He added that “it is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation.” He noted that it was also not acceptable that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses. Other main finding of the report indicates that the burden of eye conditions and vision impairment are not borne equally. It shows that the burden of eye conditions and vision impairment 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. The report also indicates that the unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions. It indicated that “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. “As much as 14.3 billion dollars is needed to address the backlog of one billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataract.” The report says eye conditions that 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 indicated. According to the report, 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. 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 due to increasing numbers of people 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.” The report decries weak or poorly integrated eye care services, the lack of access to routine checks that can detect conditions and lead to delivery of appropriate preventive care or treatment. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Sight Day, observed annually on the second Thursday of October, is a global event meant to draw attention to causes of blindness and vision impairment, as well as raise awareness on ways to avoid the disease. (NAN) – Oct. 9, 2019 @ 15:19 GMT |

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