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HomeminewsEye Health Essential to Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

Eye Health Essential to Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

Without action, the number of people with vision loss is expected to rise from 1.1 billion to 1.7 billion people by 2050, mainly due to population growth and population ageing, according to Vision Atlas, a report launched by International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) at a meeting of the United Nations Friends of Vision Group in late February.

The Vision Atlas contains important new estimates on the causes, magnitude and projections of vision loss from The Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG), as well as key evidence from the recently launched The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health.

with the Vision Atlas that we can show, in an accessible way, the impact that good quality eye care can have on people’s lives

The key messages from the Vision Atlas are:
• 1.1 billion people experience vision loss primarily because they do not have access to eye care services.
o Over 90% of those with vision loss live in low- and middle-income countries.
o 73% of people with vision loss are over 50 years old.
o 55% of people with vision loss are women.
• The number of people with vision loss will rise from 1.1 billion to 1.7 billion people by 2050, mainly due to population growth and population ageing.
• Over 90% of vision loss could have been prevented.
• The leading causes of vision loss include:
o Uncorrected refractive error, which is responsible for distance vision loss in 161 million people and near vision loss in an additional 510 million people.
o Unoperated cataracts, responsible for vision loss in 100 million people.
o Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy accounting for 8.1 million, 7.8 million and 4.4 million people with vision loss respectively.
o 56m have other causes of vision loss
• Unaddressed poor vision results in a global economic productivity loss of $411 billion per annum.
o Poor eye health leads to an increased risk (up to 2.6 times) of mortality.
o Children with a vision impairment are up to five times less likely to be in formal education and often achieve poorer outcomes.

A Resource to Support Change

Eye care needs are expected to increase substantially; projections estimate half of the global population (4.8 billion) will need access to regular eye care services to prevent and treat sight loss by 2050.

IAPB’s Vision Atlas is a wealth of information relevant to businesses, eye hospitals, research centres, universities, policy makers and NGOs. Given that so much of vision loss is a consequence of inequity and lack of access for the most disadvantaged members of our global community, the Vision Atlas is an important resource for those responsible for achieving universal health coverage and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2021 launch provides a rich mix of data, narratives and interactive presentation tools that make it easy to understand and present complex data sets accessibly to a broad audience.

Commenting on the launch of the Vison Atlas, IAPB Chief Executive Officer, Peter Holland said, “IAPB is pleased to launch our Vision Atlas at a special meeting of the United Nations Friends of Vision Group. The new data contained in the Vision Atlas is an important tool for the sector, both for advocacy, planning and academic purposes.

“Action on vision loss is essential if the world is to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is our aim with the Vision Atlas that we can show, in an accessible way, the impact that good quality eye care can have on people’s lives. For example, enabling children to benefit from education, helping working adults keep their jobs and ensuring older people can participate in their families and communities.”

The IAPB’s Vision Atlas was launched at a meeting of the United Nations Friends of Vision Group. The meeting was organised by the UN Ambassadors from Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh and Ireland, and addressed by H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the UN General Assembly.

Access the Vision Atlas here.

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