About avoidable blindness
The problem of avoidable blindness is vast.
- 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision.
It affects the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities.
- About 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings
It affects the elderly as well as the young.
- 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above
Sight can be restored in many if it’s identified early enough.
- Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment; cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in middle- and low-income countries.
Blindness can be prevented if people can be educated and trained.
- The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has reduced in the last 20 years according to global estimates.
There are just not enough eye surgeons and eye health care workers to keep up with the rate of increasing blindness due to preventable diseases like diabetes.
- It is estimated that at least 7 million people become blind each year and the number of blind people worldwide is increasing by 1-2 million a year.
WE MUST ACT NOW!
The effects of avoidable blindness
Blindness has profound consequences, both economic and human, in all societies but especially in low-income countries where the incidence is high.
When a person suffers from blindness, in many circumstances they are unable to work, contribute to their household or attend school. Extra care is often required from a family member who would otherwise be making a living or contributing to their community.
The physical and emotional burden impacts not only the individual but the family, community and country. The blindness of one individual in a family can push an entire family below the poverty line.
When someone becomes blind in a low-income country:
- 90% of these individuals can no longer work
- Life expectancy drops to 1/3 that of a matched peer, in age and health
- 50% of the blind report a loss of social standing and decision-making authority
- 80% of all women note a loss of authority within their families (Javitt, Int. Congr. Opthalmol., 1983)
The prevention and cure of blindness can provide enormous savings and facilitate development in countries where poverty is prevalent.
FIGHT POVERTY, SAVE SIGHT!