Today, there are more than seven billion people on our planet, and an estimated 4.3 billion of them suffer from the same health problem, regardless of their gender, age or ethnicity – poor vision. Around the world, the 2.5 billion people who still remain uncorrected would benefit from a pair of eyeglasses. Of those, 217 million are moderately or severely visually impaired, 36 million are blind, and 1.1 billion need near correction due to presbyopia.
As we recognize World Sight Day this month, we are reminded by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) that these numbers are significantly reduced from earlier projections. In fact, between 1990 and 2015, progress has resulted in some 90 million fewer people being vision impaired than was expected.
That didn’t happen in a vacuum. People didn’t stop having vision problems. But something changed.
If we take a look at what’s different, we will see a few things rise to the surface. Greater investment in eye health services, reductions in poverty, and other key factors contributed to this decline. But perhaps the most notable factor is our desire as an industry and as people to come together for the cause of vision. We take seriously our need to partner and collaborate around one thing we do well – vision health.
While this success is encouraging, our fight is not over. The constant changes in our lifestyle and demographics demand we continue to take action. With a growing elderly population due to increased lifespan, a rise in myopia threatening half our population by 2050, and increased prevalence of diabetes and other diseases that create greater risks for blindness, our work is only beginning.
The good news is we know how to continue this momentum. As we uncover the evidence that supports the need to prioritize eye health, we must give vision a voice. It’s only through collaboration among individuals, organizations, communities and more that we will make actionable change for our world.
Let’s make vision count!