Targets for avoidable sight loss 'not being met': 30-year study finds

December 01, 2020

Published in The Lancet Global Health, it examined population-based surveys of eye disease worldwide from 1980 and found public health services across the world are failing to meet targets to reduce avoidable sight loss.

A second report, also published by the same group in The Lancet Global Health, warns that global blindness and severe vision impairment are set to dramatically increase by 2050.

University of Melbourne Professor and senior author Hugh Taylor said it was wonderful to see all the data combined to give such a strong picture of worldwide progress in eye care and the work that still needs to be done.

"It shows that we do know how to address the needs; when the services are provided, they really do work, but more are needed," Professor Taylor said.

The first report's findings were benchmarked to the 2013 World Health Assembly (WHA) Global Action Plan, which aimed to reduce avoidable sight loss by 25 per cent over the decade since 2010.

Researchers found that the leading cause of blindness was cataract, which accounted for 15 million or 45 per cent of 33.6 million blindness cases globally. It also caused severe vision impairment in 78 million people and is treatable by surgery.

Uncorrected refractive error, a condition easily treated with spectacles, was the biggest contributor to moderate or severely impaired distance vision, affecting an estimated 86 million people globally. More than 500 million people were estimated to have uncorrected presbyopia (reduced ability to focus on close objects), which is easily corrected with reading glasses.

Significant but less easily treatable vision loss causes included glaucoma (the leading cause of vision loss in high-income countries), diabetic retinopathy (eye loss condition caused by diabetes), and age-related macular degeneration.

Overall numbers of blind and vision impaired people increased. Accounting for the ageing of populations, avoidable blindness had fallen by 15.4 per cent since 2010. But there was no significant decrease in moderate or severe vision loss.

Professor Taylor said apart from glaucoma, the global prevalence of all major blindness and vision loss causes in people over 50 was estimated to be higher in women than men.

"Conditions such as cataract and uncorrected refractive error are major contributors to avoidable vision loss," he said. "This highlights the need for gender equity in vision research and policy."

The study also noted an increase in vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, which is of particular concern in younger, economically active age groups. This can be avoided by early detection and timely intervention.

Professor of Ophthalmology at Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge University Hospital and lead author, Rupert Bourne, said the study showed that global eye care service efforts had failed to keep pace with ageing and population growth and had failed to reach WHA targets.

"While prevalence of blindness has decreased, the number of cases has actually risen," Professor Bourne said.

"If this continues, health infrastructure will continue to creak and fail to reach the people that need relatively simple solutions to their vision loss.

"The effect of COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate this issue, with research having already shown delays and an increasing backlog of people in need of eye care. It is absolutely vital that all nations have a robust public health strategy for dealing with avoidable sight loss, which costs healthcare services billions of pounds every year."
-end-
Both studies were funded by Brien Holden Vision Institute, Fondation Théa, Fred Hollows Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sightsavers International and the University of Heidelberg.

University of Melbourne

Related Blindness Articles from Brightsurf:

New eye drops may prevent a common cause of blindness
New eye drops could prevent vision loss after retinal vein occlusion, a major cause of blindness for millions of adults, a study by Columbia University researchers has found.

Scientists pinpoint brain coordinates for face blindness
Danish and Norwegian researchers have moved one step closer to understanding where face blindness stems from in the brain.

Protein closely linked to commonest cause of blindness
An international team of scientists has identified a protein which is strongly linked to the commonest cause of blindness in developed countries when its levels are raised in the blood.

New glaucoma test to help prevent blindness
Researchers have identified 107 genes that increase a person's risk of developing the eye disease glaucoma, and now developed a genetic test to detect those at risk of going blind from it.

Treatments for leading cause of blindness generate $0.9 to $3 billion
A new economic study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology and conducted by USC researchers at the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, the Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics, and the Roski Eye Institute, quantifies the benefits of treatment for wAMD.

Identifying a gene for canine night blindness
An international team of researchers led by the University of Pennsylvania's Keiko Miyadera has identified the gene mutation responsible for a form of night blindness in dogs.

Poor diet can lead to blindness
An extreme case of 'fussy' or 'picky' eating caused a young patient's blindness, according to a new case report published today [2 Sep 2019] in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Brighter possibilities for treating blindness
Advances in preclinical research are now being translated into innovative clinical solutions for blindness, a review published in the 10th anniversary series of science Translational Medicine depicts.

How blindness shapes sound processing
Adults who lost their vision at an early age have more refined auditory cortex responses to simple sounds than sighted individuals, according to new neuroimaging research published in JNeurosci.

Study identifies new genes associated with the leading cause of blindness
A new study, published in Clinical Epigenetics, identifies genes associated with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) that could represent new targets for future drug development.

Read More: Blindness News and Blindness Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.