According to the UN health agency over 2.2 billion people around the world suffer from eye conditions and visual impairment today, reason being; ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care.
Of the 2.2 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness, over one billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed. These billion people are not getting the care they need for conditions like short and far sightedness, glaucoma and cataract, according to the first World report on vision issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
While welcoming recent successes in eliminating common conditions such as trachoma in eight countries, WHO highlighted evidence indicating that eye problems are increasingly linked to lifestyle choices, including screen time. Alarcos Cieza, who heads WHO’s work to address blindness and vision impairment, told journalists in Geneva that youngsters are among those at risk.
“In children, one of the factors that may influence the increased number of children with myopia, is that children do not spend enough time outdoors. It is a trend that is already observed in some countries like in China,” he said. “But of course, it is a trend that we can predict in other countries if they are an everyday habit, especially with child populations.”
“Vision impairment should not be seen as part of the ageing process,” Cieza said, “because if you receive the appropriate care, for example, in the case of glaucoma, you can prevent the vision impairment associated with glaucoma, or if you receive cataract surgery, you can avoid the visual impairment associated with cataracts.”