Burden of Impaired Vision $269 Billion Annually
Vision Impact Institute Takes on Global Challenge to Raise Awareness of the
Consequences of Poor Vision
(Charenton-le-Pont, March 18, 2013) – Essilor, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, today launches the first organization dedicated to socio-economic-related vision issues: the Vision Impact Institute. Today’s most widespread disability, impaired vision, affects 4.2 billion people throughout the world, of whom 2.5 billion have no access to corrective measures.
In its quest to achieve better vision for all, the Vision Impact Institute will act as a global connector of knowledge, data and solutions. The Institute’s mission is to raise awareness about the socio-economic impact of poor vision and to foster research where needed, encouraging measures in the field of corrective vision. It will work to ensure that poor vision and the economic implications emerge as a global challenge.
This public health issue has substantial economic consequences at both an individual and collective level: $269 billion in productivity is reportedly lost every year because of impaired vision, even though all the required solutions (eye exams, corrections) are available.1
“This is an ongoing process and the Institute will encourage further research to better assess the costs of impaired vision for all regions and populations,” says Jean-Félix Biosse Duplan, President of the Vision Impact Institute. “Today we are calling on scientists and opinion leaders in every country to get involved in the global challenge of fighting visual impairment.”
The underestimated economic impact of impaired vision
While one of the most widespread disabilities in the world, impaired vision and its cost are still underestimated in developed and emerging countries: 30% of young people in the world under the age of 18 reportedly suffer from uncorrected refractive error, which is often not diagnosed due to lack of awareness or access to care. This proportion rises to 33% in the labour force, 37% among elderly people and even 23% among motorists.2
The economic impact is significant globally: around $269 billion in productivity is reportedly lost every year, including $50 billion in Europe, $7 billion in Japan, and $22 billion in the United States - even though there are solutions to correct most of these impaired vision cases.
The annual global cost of productivity loss corresponds to providing an eye exam for half of the current world population. Thus, simple measures might drastically reduce the economic consequences of impaired vision and also the social ones, even though the cost, level of access to care, and awareness differs by country.
The Vision Impact Institute’s mission
The Vision Impact Institute is a global collector and connector of knowledge, data and solutions for reducing the impact of impaired vision. It emerged from the admission that data on impaired vision were scarce and broadly uncoordinated, uncovering the magnitude of the problem of poor vision.
Studies conducted throughout the world were collected and gathered in cooperation with the Boston Consulting Group to put this important knowledge at the disposal of the scientific community and policy makers by creating an online resource center.
Designed as an interactive web platform, the goal of visionimpactinstitute.org is to unite a community of experts and ignite a worldwide movement to increase data research and fight impaired vision in the world.
An independent and expert Advisory Board
To support and guide the Institute’s work, independent and well-known international experts have agreed to join the Institute’s Advisory Board:
Kevin Frick, Ph.D., MA, Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA;
Clare Gilbert, Ophthalmologist, Professor in International Eye Health, International Center for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom;
Arun Bharat Ram, CEO of SRF Limited (Shri Ram Fibers) New Delhi, India;
Wu Jianmin, former ambassador in France and in the Netherlands, former permanent representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva.
These eminent personalities steer the Institute’s work, disseminate the work of researchers and are leading players in this awareness raising campaign in their respective areas of influence.
At the Vision Impact Institute launch in New-York on Friday, March 15th, Dr. Kevin Frick declared, “Joining an organization which will help to gather and share the information with stakeholders around the world seems a very worthy goal.”
1 Source: World Health Organization
2 Source: World Bank, Boston Consulting Group