New figures published in The Lancet Global Health this week show blindness now affects an estimated 36 million people globally, with the greatest burden occurring in developing countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The findings follow an analysis of the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment in 188 countries between 1990 and 2015. Global blindness crude prevalence declined from 0.75 per cent in 1990 to 0.48 per cent in 2015, while the rate of moderate to severe vision impairment reduced from 3.83 per cent to 2.90 per cent.
Despite these reductions, the authors said the growth and ageing of the world’s population is causing a substantial increase in the number of people affected by vision impairment. The study projections suggest that prevalence rates could see an upturn by 2020, to 0.50 per cent for blindness and 3.06 per cent for vision impairment.
This has prompted the authors to call for increased vision impairment alleviation efforts. “With the number of people with vision impairment accelerating, we must take action to increase our current treatment efforts at global, regional and country levels,” said lead author Professor Rupert Bourne, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.