This October the Vision Impact Institute pulled together insights from over one hundred peer-reviewed reports. Here we share some of the most salient facts.
- The direct cost of vision loss worldwide in 2010 was 2.3 trillion dollars (International Federation of Aging, 2013.)
- Refractive errors cost the US over 16.1 billion dollars annually, $44 million per day (Prevent Blindness America, 2013).
- The total cost of UK road accidents due to poor driver vision was estimated to be 53 million dollars in 2012 (Fit to Drive, Deloitte, October 2012).
- Poor vision remains the number one physical impairment worldwide, affecting over 4 billion people – of whom 2.5 billion do NOT benefit from corrective solution.
- Poor vision contributes to car accidents, falls and depression in aging adults, loss of productivity among workers, academic difficulties and juvenile delinquency in children and a lifetime of poor quality of life.
However the means to correct the world’s largest physical impairment are simple, accessible, and proven. The Vision Impact Institute, along with several long-standing NGOs, encourages simple and effective solutions to improve eye care worldwide.
Regular eye exams are vital from an early age. The eye continues to develop until the age of 7 yet few children are properly tested. Experts say 5 percent-10 percent of pre-schoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. 4% of children are affected by undetected amblyopia (lazy eye), which can have a lifelong impact on income.
Prevention campaigns are effective in reducing the effects. In Israel, the rate of blindness in Israel dropped from 33.8 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to 14.8 in 2010 thanks to innovative treatments, universal accessibility, patient compliance and prescription medications.
Development of eye care professionals (ECPS) is another crucial component in combatting the problem. Per capita ECPs vary widely by country. Switzerland: 60 per 100,000 inhabitants, USA: 40, Poland: 20, India: 6. Shockingly, Africa has only 1,900 ophthalmologists for 960 million people. Training ECPs in developing countries is part of Essilor’s mission to improve sight by improving lives. Many NGOs, community organisations and industry bodies and public private partnerships are already on board. However more is needed.