A new report has warned that health systems face “unprecedented challenges” in meeting the current and projected eye care needs of the world’s population, and says making eye care a key part of universal health coverage is one of the key actions needed to address these challenges.
The first World report on vision was issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) this week ahead of World Sight Day today (10 October). It estimates at least 2.2 billion people worldwide have vision impairment or blindness and over 1 billion of these cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed.
The report also shows the burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations. The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions, for example, is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.
The report says stronger integration of eye care is needed within national health services, including at primary care level, to ensure that the eye care needs of more people are addressed, including through prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation.