The high cost of low vision: the evidence on ageing and the loss of sight

The high cost of low vision: the evidence on ageing and the loss of sight

Vision loss − 80 percent of which is preventable − is currently the leading cause of age-related disability.Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired, including 39 million who are totally blind. In developing countries, 94 million older people suffer from moderate to severe visual impairment − twice as many as those who suffer from significant hearing impairment.

Great strides have been made in preventing communicable eye diseases, but now action is needed to combat the dramatic growth in non-communicable age-related eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As the global population ages, vision loss will have a devastating impact on not only individuals but families, communities, and nations unless serious, proactive measures are taken.
 
The demographic changes of the 21st century provide humanity with tremendous opportunities if healthy ageing leads to active, productive ageing. Vision loss, however, is a significant barrier to a positive aging outcome.
 
Priority actions include:
  • integrating visual screening and other preventive eye-health interventions into public health practices for adults of all ages
  • creating education and awareness programs that include vision-loss prevention, detection, and treatment regimens
  • reimbursing both treatments and preventive eye health interventions to ensure positive impact on system-wide costs and support for future innovation
  • developing and utilizing tele-health mechanisms to provide greater access to screening and treatment regardless of geographical locationa
  • advocating for vision loss to become widely recognised as a preventable health condition; and
  • conducting more research on the outcomes and efficacy of preventive eye health
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