The International Centre for Eye Health co-chairs the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health
Commission reveals eye health is essential to the Sustainable Development Goals
by Hugh Bassett |
March 19, 2021

ICEH were co-chairs on the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health, published this month. The Commission is the work of an interdisciplinary group of 73 academics and national programme leaders and practitioners from 25 countries. Building on the World Report on Vision, the Commission analysed all aspects of eye health in 2020 and beyond.

By looking at global development, economics, healthcare systems, equity and the workforce, the Commission argues that improving eye health is essential to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and provides recommendations to improve lives and livelihoods for all.

In 2020, 1.1 billion people were living with untreated impaired vision, and hundreds of millions more are receiving ongoing care for diagnosed conditions. Furthermore, 90% live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with the greatest proportion occurring in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Analyses indicate that a large economic cost due to this magnitude of impaired vision. The report estimates that blindness and moderate-to-severe vision loss cost the world US$411 billion in 2020, with east Asia (US$90 billion) and south Asia (US$70 billion) experiencing the greatest magnitude.

This is despite the fact that there are however existing, highly cost-effective treatments for the vast majority of eye health conditions. In fact, over 90% of people living with vision loss have could be treated either with cataract surgery or simply receiving spectacles. Both interventions are shown in the report to be highly cost-effective in many settings, particularly LMICs.

Increasing investment in eye health can also help to reduce the deep inequalities in access to treatment. This would help women, rural populations, minority groups and people living with disabilities, who are all more likely to experience impaired eye health.

Eye health needs to be included in the planning, resourcing, and delivery of wider health care and the existing eye health workforce must be expanded to meet population needs. Harnessing new technology can help to reach disadvantaged groups and accelerate diagnosis and treatment.

Urgent investment is needed to build on the strong foundation laid by VISION 2020. Through governments recognising the impact of eye health, and prioritising it in their planning and policy-making, we can look forward to a future with increased quality of life and economic productivity for individuals and nations worldwide.

ICEH is committed to advocating for the recommendations contained within the report through all of our activities throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

For more information on the Commission, including resources, please visit www.globaleyehealthcommission.org