One Billion People Suffer From Preventable Eye Conditions: WHO

(TELESUR) – More than 2.2 billion people globally live with vision impairment or blindness and at least one billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented by simple eye care, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) published Tuesday.

This worldwide research was produced after several governments requested it during the 2017 World Health Assembly held in Switzerland, Alarcos Cieza, who oversees WHO’s work on vision told Al Jazeera.

“It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed in a statement.

The leading causes of vision impairment globally were found to be uncorrected refractive errors (124 million) and cataracts (65 million). Other causes include myopia, diabetes, and late detection.

The investigation also shows that nearly 900 million people suffered from unaddressed presbyopia – an age-related ailment – and glaucoma.

Ghebreyesus said that people who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. Furthermore, he defended that all countries include eye care as part of their national health coverage plans as they take steps towards implementing universal healthcare coverage.

The report, the first of its kind, states that people living poor and middle-income countries were four times more susceptible to vision impairment compared with higher-income regions – with rates eight times higher in eastern and western sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

On the other hand, the investigation shows that rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis were higher among women, particularly in low and middle-income countries. “Women may be more susceptible to trachoma than men due to greater contact with children in their role of the primary caretaker of the household,” it reads.

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